2018 Bills

SB 86: Increased Criminal Penalties for Discriminating Against Victims

This bill was not voted on in the Senate or House.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill

Staff review of this legislation finds that it violates our principles and must therefore be opposed.

After a failed attempt by Senator Urquhart two years ago to increase the criminal penalties for so-called “hate crimes,” Senator Daniel Thatcher is sponsoring Senate Bill 86 this session to implement a similar approach. The bill is similar to one Senator Thatcher sponsored last year, which never received a committee hearing.

SB 86 would increase misdemeanors by one degree (e.g. a class A misdemeanor becomes a 3rd degree felony) if a criminal offender selects a victim “in whole or in part” because of the offender’s “belief or perception regarding [the victim’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 “in part” due to a discriminatory “perception” about the victim’s personal characteristics is immaterial. Taxpayers should not be required to subsidize higher incarceration rates in pursuit of misnamed “social justice.”