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
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.”