SB 72: Increasing Criminal Penalties for Prejudicial Motives

This Bill did not reach the Senate floor for a vote.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill.

After a failed attempt by Senator Urquhart last year to increase the criminal penalties for so-called “hate crimes,” Senator Daniel Thatcher is sponsoring Senate Bill 72 this session to implement a similar approach.

This legislation, if enacted, would increase the penalty by one degree (e.g. going from a 3rd degree felony to a 2rd degree) if a criminal offender “acted against an individual because of the offender’s perception of the individual’s ancestry, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religion, or sexual orientation.”

This bill seems especially incongruous in light of the recent criminal justice reforms which involved a widespread reclassification and reduction in crimes, in part to keep people out of prison who should not be there.

The motives involved in a crime are not important to the action itself. Whether an assault was instigated by the aggressor’s jealousy, drunkenness, anger, or discriminatory “prejudice” about the victim’s personal characteristics is immaterial. Taxpayers should not be required to subsidize higher incarceration rates in pursuit of misnamed “social justice.”