INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Several local groups gathered Wednesday at the Indiana Statehouse to talk about adding hate crime legislation to Indiana’s laws.
Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry was among the speakers.
“It would create within the statute that creates aggravating and mitigating circumstances for purposes of sentencing,” Curry said. “It would make bias crime one of those aggravating circumstances.
The law would add increased punishment for anyone committing a crime based on things like religion, ethnicity or gender identity.
Indiana is one of only five states that don’t have hate crime laws.
Recently, there have been a rash of crimes in Indianapolis that some believe would qualify for a hate crime. There were bomb threats called into the Jewish Community Center (JCC), vandals spray painted a church and also a mosque in Brownsburg.
In Feb., IMPD says Brandon Savage walked into Olly’s Downtown Bar and made threats to shoot up the place like a popular gay bar in Orlando, Florida, where 49 people were killed, and 53 were injured by a gunman. Police arrested Savage, and charged him with attempted robbery. If Indiana had an established hate crime law prosecutors may have charged Savage differently.
Curry made it clear, a hate crime provision in the state would help his office address potential bias-motivated crimes.
“We believe that the explicit language is necessary in the statue so that prosecutors can appropriately argue, and the courts will consider, how bias motivation in a criminal act has a greater effect on the safety and well being of the public at large,” said Curry.
More than 40 groups from Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, and Lafayette placed support behind the proposal. A coalition of concerned Hoosiers, are asking lawmakers to pass a hate crime law this session.