2019 Bills

SB 103: Increased Criminal Penalties for Discriminating Against Victims

To track the status of this bill, find it on our Legislation Tracker. Click here to contact the sponsor of the bill to share your thoughts, or click here to email your Senator and Representative about it.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill

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

After a failed attempt by Senator Urquhart three years ago to increase the criminal penalties for so-called “hate crimes,” and after two years of having a similar bill not get voted on, Senator Daniel Thatcher is sponsoring Senate Bill 103 this session to implement a similar approach.

SB 103 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.”

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