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Bohacek files bias crimes bill

November 10, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS — State Sen. Mike Bohacek, R-Michiana Shores, recently filed a bill that would make bias-motivated crime an aggravating circumstance to be considered by a court during sentencing.

According to a press release from Bohacek’s office, this bill would allow a court to increase the punishment if a perpetrator commits a crime against their victim because of the victim’s perceived or actual characteristics like race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, political affiliation, status as a public safety official or service in the armed forces of the United States.

Bohacek’s bill would also require law enforcement agencies to report bias-motivated crimes to the FBI and Indiana’s central repository for criminal history information at least twice a year.

The release cited the Oct. 27 incident where a man reportedly shouted anti-Semitic slurs inside the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh before taking the lives of at least 11 congregants and wounding four police officers and two others. According to the release, this incident has been recognized as one of the deadliest attacks against the Jewish community in the United States.

“I strongly believe now is the time for Indiana to pass legislation to address bias-motived crimes,” Bohacek said. “The tragic shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh demonstrates the need for bias crimes legislation in our state. Right now, Indiana is one of only five states without a bias or hate crime statute, and I am hopeful this legislation would help prevent hate crimes in our state and ensure the safety of all Hoosiers.”

During the 2018 legislative session, Bohacek authored Senate Bill 418, which did not pass out of the Senate Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law. SB 418 would have allowed a court to consider it an aggravating circumstance if a crime was committed with the intent to harm or intimidate an individual based on certain factors like race, religion, sexual orientation and disability.

The 2019 legislative session will begin in January.

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