Indiana Senate Bill 220 passed the senate 34-16 and will now advance to the state House. This bill would offer the possibility of judges to impose harsher sentences to convicted criminals whose actions targeted victims based on race, religion, color, sex, gender identity, disability, national origin, ancestry or sexual orientation.
Indiana is one of five states that have no legislation on sentencing hate crimes. The others are Georgia, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Wyoming.
The Southern Poverty Law Center’s website shows around a dozen hate groups actively operating within Indiana.
“When a crime is committed against persons who share these characteristics, it sends a chilling message to all members of the community who share that race, religion, nationality, ancestry or other characteristics enumerated in this bill. I truly believe that the people of Indiana are open, accepting and will not tolerate criminal acts against their fellow Hoosiers based upon prejudice and hate,” the bill’s author Sue Glick said.
Indiana lawmakers have been under scrutiny since they killed another recent hate crime bill that would have added civil protections to lesbian, gay, and bisexual people with no specific protection for the transgender community.