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Muda69

Indiana governor signs controversial hate crimes bill into law

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https://wsbt.com/news/local/indiana-governor-signs-controversial-hate-crimes-bill-into-law

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 Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed legislation Wednesday aimed at getting Indiana off a list of five states without a hate crimes law, saying that the conservative Midwestern state has "made progress and taken a strong stand against targeted violence."

The Republican governor signed the measure into law one day after the GOP-dominated state Senate voted 34-14 to approve the bill's bias crimes language. Several Democratic senators urged its defeat, saying it falls short of what's needed because its language does not explicitly cover age, sex or gender identity.

The bill's passage and Holcomb's signing it into law comes after repeated attempts to pass a bias crimes law in Indiana failed amid fierce opposition from conservatives who said it would unfairly create specially-protected classes of victims and wrongly restrict free speech.

Holcomb had pushed for more comprehensive legislation with an enumerated list of traits that include gender and gender identity. But he and other Republicans argued that the measure covers all 6.6 million Hoosiers because it covers all characteristics and traits, whether expressly listed or not.

Holcomb said in a statement after signing the legislation, which takes effect July 1, that "our goal was to achieve a comprehensive law that protects those who are the targets of bias crimes, and we have accomplished just that."

"We have made progress and taken a strong stand against targeted violence. I am confident our judges will increase punishment for those who commit crimes motivated by bias under this law," he said in his statement.

The Anti-Defamation League lists Indiana as one of five states, along with Georgia, South Carolina, Wyoming and Arkansas, without hate crimes protections.

It's unclear whether the law will result in Indiana being removed from that list. The ADL said Friday that the legislation "does not meet our standard for a real and effective hate crimes bill in 2019."

Jessica Gall, the co-Interim regional director of ADL Midwest, did not immediately reply to messages left Wednesday asking whether the new law is sufficient to get Indiana off its list.

But Gall said in a statement earlier Wednesday that the ADL does not consider Indiana's law "to be an adequate hate crimes law."

"The failure to explicitly list gender identity, gender, or sex is unacceptable. In addition, the overbroad and vague language of SB 198 dilutes the legislation's ostensible intent and prevents it from being a real hate crimes law," she said in her statement.

Indiana's law will allow judges to impose longer sentences for crimes motivated by bias and refers to Indiana's bias crimes reporting statute that mentions color, creed, disability, national origin, race, religion and sexual orientation, but doesn't explicitly cover age, sex or gender identity.

The law, however, says bias can also be considered due to the "victim's or the group's real or perceived characteristic, trait, belief, practice, association, or other attribute."

A former Indiana Supreme Court justice, Frank Sullivan, Jr., said in a letter he sent Wednesday to Holcomb that the law's language "is legally sufficient" to enable Indiana trial court judges to impose harsher sentences, including "for a crime committed with bias due to the victim's gender or gender identity."

"Just because a characteristic or trait is not specifically listed does not prevent it from being used to impose a harsher sentence ... Indiana now joins as it should the mainstream of states in punishing crimes of bias," wrote Sullivan, who was appointed to Indiana's high court in 1993 by Democratic Gov. Evan Bayh and retired in 2012.

A Senate committee had passed another hate crimes bill in February, but a few days later the state Senate stripped out a list of specific protected traits , including sexual orientation, gender identity and race.

Members of the House voted 57-39 last week to advance the legislation after new language was added to an unrelated bill.

House Speaker Brian Bosma said Tuesday that the legislation "meets or exceeds" bias crimes statutes on the books in 21 other states "and all of those states are off the list of states without a bias crimes law."

"There's no reasonable assertion as to why this all-inclusive measure doesn't take Indiana off the list," he said in a statement.

In 2015, then-Gov. Mike Pence signed a religious protections law that critics widely panned as sanctioning of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. After the state faced boycott threats, lawmakers made changes to the law to prevent it from being used to justify discrimination against LGBT people in the state.

 

This Letter to the Editor pretty much states my opinion on this matter, frankly that hate laws are not needed:  https://www.jconline.com/story/news/opinion/letters/2018/02/20/letter-why-indiana-doesnt-need-hate-crime-law/356891002/

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On Oct. 10, 2004, five women and six men were handcuffed, arrested and taken to a Philadelphia jail where they sat for 21 hours before District Attorney Lynne Abraham charged them with “ethnic intimidation” under the state’s hate crime law. 

What crime did these non-violent offenders, including a 73-year-old African American grandmother, commit? They peacefully passed out religious literature on public sidewalks during the homosexual OutFest.  Penalties for this “crime” could have reached 47 years in prison and $90,000 in fines.

Fortunately, Judge Pamela Dembe dismissed the charges as being without merit.  However, this is an example of the duplicitous nature of hate crime laws.  In America we punish people for what they do, not for what they think or believe. 

Indiana is being shamed as one of five states without a hate crime law like Pennsylvania’s.  There are good reasons why Indiana doesn’t need such a law.  First, it isn’t necessary. Since 2003, judges in Indiana have had the ability to enhance a sentence for any crime if a judge chooses. 

Second, actions of hate crimes are already illegal in Indiana. What makes a crime a hate crime are the thoughts, motives or speech of the accused, alone.  Do we really want the government to start punishing people for what they believe?  Do we want Thought Police?

As the “Philadelphia 11” reveal, hate crime laws show contempt for the moral and religious beliefs of millions of Hoosiers of all races who believe in traditional values.  It equated disapproval, (even if expressed peacefully and lovingly), with hate and criminality.  This may be why many states have had to deal with hate crime hoaxes carried out for political reasons and media attention.  Well-written, and wisely conceived laws are not easily abused or politicized.

Third, hate crime laws are ineffective.  Thankfully, actual hate crimes are fairly rare. In 2016, 99.9996% of crimes in Indiana were not “hate crimes.”  Still, some supporters say this law is needed to send a message.  Well, as Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that working for ya?”   A 2015 state ranking finds that the fifteen highest states for hate crimes incidents all have longstanding hate crime laws.  Conversely, most of the five states without a hate crime law rank near the bottom in hate crimes. Indiana ranked 31st lowest.

I sympathize with the victims of these crimes. I also believe in “Equal Justice Under Law” etched in stone on the U.S. Supreme Court building.  For the last two years I have supported language that would protect speech and reaffirm our ability to enhance penalties for any crime, not just those on a politically favored victim list written in Indiana’s proposed bills.  While this language was supported by Attorney General Hill, a former prosecutor, the author of SB 418 rejected it, and again allowed her bias crime bill to die. 

Why would we change our law and not stand up for every victim of crime? With these listed concerns, and this legislative move, I wonder if calls for hate crime laws are only about justice for some.

 

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So does this mean Indiana now resubmits their bid to Amazon for H2?

What a colossal waste of time, effort, and political capital for a nothing piece of legislation. 

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3 minutes ago, Impartial_Observer said:

So does this mean Indiana now resubmits their bid to Amazon for H2?

What a colossal waste of time, effort, and political capital for a nothing piece of legislation. 

But hey, Indiana may now possibly, maybe, get dropped off of some list.

 

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1 hour ago, Muda69 said:

The Pennsylvania law (or maybe Philadelphia city ordinance?) that was relied on in the case discussed in the letter to the editor clearly was not like the law enacted in Indiana, since the Indiana law does not create any new crimes (e.g., it wouldn't allow someone to be arrested for "ethnic intimidation"). Our "hate" law is a sentencing enhancement law, so there still must be proof (and conviction) of some underlying criminal offense that is already illegal under existing Indiana law. So that argument against the Indiana law -- that it has now criminalized mere thoughts or attitudes -- is a complete red herring. 

My concern about this new law is that, in our legislators great desire to avoid offending some of their constituents by including gender or gender identity as a protected category, while at the same time trying to avoid the bad national publicity (ala with the State RFRA law of a few years ago)  of just coming out and saying that they did not intend to cover those categories in the new law, they wrote a law that is, arguably, unenforceably vague. I appreciate that former Justice Sullivan has offered his opinion that it is not, but the Indiana ACLU is apparently already preparing to bring a lawsuit contending that it is. 

Edited by Wabash82

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4 minutes ago, Wabash82 said:

The Pennsylvania law (or maybe Philadelphia city ordinance?) that was relied on in the case discussed in the letter to the editor clearly was not like the law enacted in Indiana, since the Indiana law does not create any new crimes (e.g., it wouldn't allow someone to be arrested for "ethnic intimidation"). Our "hate" law is a sentencing enhancement law, so there still must be proof (and conviction) of some underlying criminal offense that is already illegal under existing Indiana law. So that argument against the Indiana law -- that it has now criminalized mere thoughts or attitudes -- is a complete red herring. 

Is this statement by Mr. Clark not true?:  

Quote

Since 2003, judges in Indiana have had the ability to enhance a sentence for any crime if a judge chooses. 

 

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59 minutes ago, Wabash82 said:

The Pennsylvania law (or maybe Philadelphia city ordinance?) that was relied on in the case discussed in the letter to the editor clearly was not like the law enacted in Indiana, since the Indiana law does not create any new crimes (e.g., it wouldn't allow someone to be arrested for "ethnic intimidation"). Our "hate" law is a sentencing enhancement law, so there still must be proof (and conviction) of some underlying criminal offense that is already illegal under existing Indiana law. So that argument against the Indiana law -- that it has now criminalized mere thoughts or attitudes -- is a complete red herring. 

My concern about this new law is that, in our legislators great desire to avoid offending some of their constituents by including gender or gender identity as a protected category, while at the same time trying to avoid the bad national publicity (ala with the State RFRA law of a few years ago)  of just coming out and saying that they did not intend to cover those categories in the new law, they wrote a law that is, arguably, unenforceably vague. I appreciate that former Justice Sullivan has offered his opinion that it is not, but the Indiana ACLU is apparently already preparing to bring a lawsuit contending that it is. 

There was federal law on the books in the case of RFRA, my question for Pence and the legislature at the time, why this, why now? I seem to recall this was about the same time Pence was lobbying for an anti-gay marriage amendment. SCOTUS put an end to that. Politically could anyone make any dumber decisions?

Yet another instance of our last two R governors worrying about the mice, while the elephants are running over them. 

But hey, as is the case today, we did something, now we can all feel better about ourselves and go on about our business. 

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4 hours ago, Muda69 said:

Is this statement by Mr. Clark not true?:  

 

First, I just want to point out that Clark's argument that this new "hate" law is of concern because it criminalizes mere thought or attitude is at odds with his subsequent assertion that the law wasn't needed anyway, because existing Indiana law does the same thing.  So is Clark saying that Indiana law currently allows judges to  "criminalizes" mere thoughts, since (according to Clark) judges already have the discretion under Indiana law to use the defendant's discriminatory/bias-based motivation to give a sentence above the advisory sentence?  

Second, Yes, that statement by Clark is not completely accurate. It is accurate that Indiana statutory law since 2003 (or there abouts) provides that judges are not limited to applying only the specific enumerated aggravating circumstances listed in the statute (35-38-1-1.7), and may impose any sentence that falls within the statutory range for the crime (i.e., they are not bound to give the advisory sentence). 

But criminal sentences imposed by trial courts in Indiana are still subject to review for abuse of discretion and "appropriateness".  And they are also subject to a Constitutional limitation (from SCOTUS 6th amendment decisions) that if the judge applies some aggravating factor associated with an aspect of the commission of that specific crime (for example, a firearm was used in the commission of the crime, or the crime was an act of violence committed in front of a minor, as distinguished from an aggravating factor such as the defendant has prior felony convictions),  those factor must be based on facts actually found by the trier of fact or admitted by the defendant. 

So adding bias/discriminatory motivation based on race, gender, sexual identity, etc. as an express aggravating circumstance in the statute means prosecutors have solid legal grounds to present evidence at trial of facts that establish that factor, which the judge may then cite to support his decision to give a sentence beyond the advisory sentence. 

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5 hours ago, Wabash82 said:

First, I just want to point out that Clark's argument that this new "hate" law is of concern because it criminalizes mere thought or attitude is at odds with his subsequent assertion that the law wasn't needed anyway, because existing Indiana law does the same thing.  So is Clark saying that Indiana law currently allows judges to  "criminalizes" mere thoughts, since (according to Clark) judges already have the discretion under Indiana law to use the defendant's discriminatory/bias-based motivation to give a sentence above the advisory sentence?  

Second, Yes, that statement by Clark is not completely accurate. It is accurate that Indiana statutory law since 2003 (or there abouts) provides that judges are not limited to applying only the specific enumerated aggravating circumstances listed in the statute (35-38-1-1.7), and may impose any sentence that falls within the statutory range for the crime (i.e., they are not bound to give the advisory sentence). 

But criminal sentences imposed by trial courts in Indiana are still subject to review for abuse of discretion and "appropriateness".  And they are also subject to a Constitutional limitation (from SCOTUS 6th amendment decisions) that if the judge applies some aggravating factor associated with an aspect of the commission of that specific crime (for example, a firearm was used in the commission of the crime, or the crime was an act of violence committed in front of a minor, as distinguished from an aggravating factor such as the defendant has prior felony convictions),  those factor must be based on facts actually found by the trier of fact or admitted by the defendant. 

So adding bias/discriminatory motivation based on race, gender, sexual identity, etc. as an express aggravating circumstance in the statute means prosecutors have solid legal grounds to present evidence at trial of facts that establish that factor, which the judge may then cite to support his decision to give a sentence beyond the advisory sentence. 

Perhaps you can ask Mr. Clark himself.  Here is a link to his website, contact information may be there:  https://www.afain.net/

So by your last sentence it appears that Indiana hate crime legislation really isn't needed at all.  Thank you.

 

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14 hours ago, Muda69 said:

Perhaps you can ask Mr. Clark himself.  Here is a link to his website, contact information may be there:  https://www.afain.net/

So by your last sentence it appears that Indiana hate crime legislation really isn't needed at all.  Thank you.

 

Yeah, that's what it says... if you are Younger Bear. 

 

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55 minutes ago, Wabash82 said:

Yeah, that's what it says... if you are Younger Bear. 

 

I don't understand the reference.

 

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