Committee Passes Bill Creating Hate Crime Penalties

Jan 26, 2016

Credit Joe Gratz / https://www.flickr.com/photos/joegratz/117048243

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.