Bias Crimes Update
March 5, 2019
What's happened so far?
• After hours of broad supportive testimony, the Senate Public Policy Committee passed an excellent Bias Crimes bill (Senate Bill 12) out of committee with a vote of 9-1.
• The bill included 3 provisions that supporters advocated for: (1) a strong definition of what a Bias Crime is that included a list of enumerated characteristics; (2) an update to our crime reporting requirements; and (3) an update to law enforcement training requirements.
• The very next day the full Senate gutted the bill with an amendment that removed all 3 provisions and simply left the words “including bias” in the sentencing section of our criminal code.
Here's a link
to the JCRC's statement after the bill was stripped.
• The amended (gutted) bill then passed on largely a party line vote (33-16) to move out of the Senate and over to the House.
So what does SB12 do now? Not much!
The gutted version of SB12 no longer:
• Updates reporting requirements to ensure bias crimes data is being reported to Indiana State Police and the FBI.
• Creates a new, clear, and specific aggravating circumstance with a list of enumerated characteristics that allow a court to increase penalties for the commission of a bias-motivated crime against a person or group of people
• Requires training on recognizing, investigating and reporting bias-motivated crimes for law enforcement agencies and officers.
Will the current gutted version of SB12 get Indiana off the list of 5 states without a bias crimes law?
• NO! All major national civil rights organizations that monitor state bias crimes laws agree that effective, constitutional statutes MUST HAVE an enumerated list of characteristics for courts to reference in order to determine bias as a motivating factor.
• Laws that do not include a list are ineffective and unusable (Georgia and Utah are examples; Utah is currently revising its statute to include a list).
What is Indiana Forward recommending?
• Indiana Forward DOES NOT support SB12 in its current form. The coalition will not compromise on the need to have an enumerated list for an effective law.
• Indiana Forward will continue to work with the Indiana House of Representatives to put the list back into the bill.
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