The FBI reports that hate crimes have continued to escalate across the country, citing three continuous years of increases. The largest motivator in these crimes appears to be racial and ethnic bias, although other factors – sexual orientation, religion, disability, national origin, for example – may be the particular bias in some cases.
In Arizona, bias such as those listed above constitutes an aggravating factor which could increase the presumptive sentence for a particular offense. We previously pointed this out in our blog several years ago. But what about other states?
We won’t get into all the statistics on the rise in hate crimes, but we can tell you that racial and ethnic bias comprise almost 60% those reported. Religious-based hate crimes were also up, with a 37% increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes, and an 18% increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes.
States without hate crime laws
We’ve talked about Arizona, but what about the other states? How is the country as a whole responding to the increase in hate crimes in recent years? To date, there are only a small number of states that have not passed a hate crime laws of one sort or another. They are:
- South Carolina
Interestingly, there is currently a bill moving through the Indiana legislature that would have been considered a hate crime bill, but those opposed to it have removed all reference to race, ethnicity or any other specific hate crime subject. The bill, as it now stands, merely says that “bias” is an aggravating circumstance in sentencing. Unfortunately, along with taking the teeth out of the bill, and refusing to acknowledge the reasons for its existence, the change has also likely made the bill, if it is enacted, unconstitutionally vague. A similar bill passed in Georgia in 2000 was successfully challenged and thrown out as unconstitutional by the Georgia Supreme Court.
We ask our readers to consider, in light of sharply escalating hate crimes, the failure of a state to pass a hate crime law at all, or one that refuses to spell out the particular groups sought to be protected (virtually guaranteeing that it will be either ineffective or thrown out by the courts).
Law Offices of David A. Black
40 North Central Avenue #1850
Phoenix, AZ 85004