Indiana is one of only five states without any hate crimes law. Legislation unanimously approved Tuesday by a Senate committee would change that.
Sen. Sue Glick’s (R-LaGrange) bill would allow judges to inflict harsher penalties based on a person’s motivation for committing a crime – specifically, if they committed a crime with the intent to harm or intimidate someone based on that person’s race, religion, color, national origin, sex, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, or transgender status.
Glick’s original proposal would’ve created a new crime entirely – but she says her legislation creating just a penalty enhancement still sends a strong message.
“[It] sends a message to those individuals that we will not tolerate it in our society,” Glick says.
Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry says recent examples prove the need for such a law. He cites an Indiana University student’s attack on a Muslim woman, a burning cross on an African-American family’s lawn and an attack on a man because he’s gay.
“Bias-motivated crimes clearly affect more than a victim in any given case, but instead can create fear throughout an entire community,” Curry says.
The bill now heads to the Senate floor.