Monday, January 14, 2008

Hate Crimes Legislation Back This Year

Rep. Greg Porter (D-Indianapolis) and Sen. Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) have introduced legislation in their respective chambers to provide enhanced sentencing for persons who commit crimes against a person or their property because of a bias motivation, such as the person's race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation. HB 1076 has been assigned to the House Court and Criminal Code Committee where it is awaiting action. SB 306 has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Interestingly, Sen. Lanane has also introduced a bill, SB 171, which makes it an aggravating sentencing factor to commit a crime against a person because of their disability. That bill has been assigned to the Committee on Corrections, Criminal, and Civil Matters.

Indiana is one of just five states in the country without a hate crimes law. The religious right has made it a priority to defeat the legislation because it interferes with their "freedom of religion" and "freedom of speech" to condemn such things as homosexuality, suggesting ministers will be jailed if the legislation becomes law. Of course, this has happened in any of the 45 other states but hey, whatever works, right?

Speaking of whatever works, the second killer of Aaron Hall, Garrett Gray, succeeded in pleading down his crime of murdering Aaron Hall because he allegedly touched co-killer Coleman King's privates and asked for oral sex to simple voluntary manslaughter, which calls for a 30-year prison sentence. That will allow Gray, like his co-killer King, to be free in about 15 years. The two killers confessed to police in a video-tape recording how they brutally beat Hall to death over a several hour period and dumped his nude body along a secluded farm road as he grasped for life. So the moral to the story is if you want to beat a murder rap in Jackson County, Indiana, simply claim the guy you killed was gay and made a sexual advance towards you. And who said there was no such thing as a gay panic defense?

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Elrod Co-Sponsor?

Advance Indiana said...

I know he co-sponsored the legislation last year. I don't know about this year.

Anonymous said...

Elrod is too busy trying to further his personal career to co sponsor some legislation like this.

Advance Indiana said...

Thanks for the commentary, Wilson

Anonymous said...

Was it really Wilson, or were you joking? Have his games begun already?

I hope Rep. Porter plans on asking the Hall family to testify. Anyone who hears their story of grief cannot go away unconvinced.

Except the heartless.

Damn. I just realized that's a good number of Senate Republicans.

Wilson46201 said...

Gary Welsh knows full well that wasn't me. Why do you misinform the readers, Gary?

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't Andre sponsor something, oh yeah, further his personal career...hasn't even done a thing on council.

Advance Indiana said...

Wilson, you've been trashing Elrod non-stop since he got the endorsement. The anonymous negative swipes always seem to accompany your presence on the blog.

As to the Hall family, they are very sensitive about the whole insinuation about Aaron's sexual orientation. They insist he was straight and the two killers made it up about him being gay to win sympathy. I doubt they would testify, but I could be wrong.

Anonymous said...

Here's a recent Sun Times story of an all too typical kind of hate crime:

http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/738593,CST-NWS-cemetery13.article

Obviously, no one was physically injured but it is still appalling.

Anonymous said...

A murder is a murder, an assault is an assault -- to the person harmed it makes no difference the "reason" for the crime. The punishment should be the same for any particular injustice to a person and we do not need any thought police trying to determine a criminal motive to increase punishment. "Hate" crime legislation is a dangerous slippery slope of justice.

Anonymous said...

Adding hate to a crime does make a difference and the person charged with the crime should faced a heavier penalty. Hate is hate. Republicans dont get it.

Randy Studt said...

Gary, I find it interesting that you don't give the two Republican Senators who are the main co-sponsors credit.

Sens. Ron Alting, Lafayette and Teresa Lubbers, Indianapolis have signed on to co-sponsor and they both sit on the Judiciary Committee.

In the House Rep. Richard Bray, Martinsville, (yeah, I said MARTINSVILLE) is co-sponsoring too.

I think this bill has a much better chance of getting through. Let's do whatever it takes to make that a reality.

Contact www.indianaequality.org to get more involved and be informed!

Anonymous said...

Randy--maybe if you looked at the Legislative Services Agency posting on this bill, you wouldn't find it "interesting" that Gary didn't mention other sponsors.

It didn't include the folks you mentioned--until late yesterday.

And even if you did find it "interesting," why the sniping? A gentle post about the other sponsors/authors would've sufficed.

Kinder, gentler...we need the support of one another in this and other battles. No need to poke sharp sticks at one another.

We've een way too good at that in the past.

Rep. Bray was the biggest surprise to me. Whoever got to him, bravo! He's overstayed his welcome by about a decade.

Anonymous said...

Adding hate to a crime does make a difference and the person charged with the crime should faced a heavier penalty.

Why? Why is it that my rights as a victim are worth less because I get mugged for just my cash instead of getting mugged for my cash because I am white? This is nothing more than feel good legislation. I guess getting raped is not as bad as a jewish person getting seriously beat down by a neo-nazi? Sickening.

In the above example the rapist will be out six months to a year before the neo-nazi.

Anonymous said...

A murder is a murder, an assault is an assault -- to the person harmed it makes no difference the "reason" for the crime. The punishment should be the same for any particular injustice to a person and we do not need any thought police trying to determine a criminal motive to increase punishment. "Hate" crime legislation is a dangerous slippery slope of justice.

We already allow similar sentence enhancements based on the age or occupation of the victim.

Advance Indiana said...

Randy, I was simply taking the information about sponsors off LSA's website. The others aren't listed yet. No grand conspiracy here. Lighten up.

Randy Studt said...

No, no. I wasn't meaning to snipe. Poor choice of words on my part. Mea Culpa!! :-)

I was very glad to see these Republicans step forward and take leadership on this issue. Maybe this time it won't be demagoged by the right wingers, but I won't be sure til it's passed.

Again, I apologize for leaving that impression that I was unhappy that you didn't give Republican leaders credit. Surprised would have been a better word.

Denise Travers said...

Gary, the hearing is TOMORROW:

3:00 pm, at the Indiana State House, Room 156-C.

The Halls will not be there, this time at least. Mostly because King's sentencing was today, and they're all emotionally overwhelmed.

Advance Indiana said...

Denise, It is an outrage that the Hall family agreed to the plea agreement. This is not justice. I will attribute it to their lack of formal education and fear of making waves and that corrupt little cesspool called Jackson County.

Randy Studt said...

Sorry, Gary, I must have mixed up my Martinsville Republicans. It's Richard Foley in the House who is co-sponsoring.

And yes, KUDOS are deserved by those who have toiled outside the limelight to get these Republicans on the right side of this issue. I would wager that more gets done in years of one-on-one contacts than in all the public hearings (where the reps rarely even listen to the speakers.)

Denise Travers said...

Gary, I can understand your frustration/anger. It was not an easy decision for them. But, as I suspect you can empathize, not a one of them was emotionally "up" for a long trial. And, they were quite concerned that, if the cases went to trial, King and Gray would get even *less* time in jail (again, given the nature of "jurisprudence" in Jackson County).

Now that King's sentencing is over, Martha and Tom will be talking publicly again. Would you like me to send along a link, once I get my blog(s) up?

I also think that the understanding is that the "real" justice for Aaron's murder will happen in prison. (Remember, Aaron was a gang member -- a gang which has members in each of the proposed prisons that King and Gray will go to).

What a world.

Advance Indiana said...

Denise, Does anyone understand the meaning of a video-taped confession from the killers? There would have been no long, drawn out trial. It is an insult to the public order to accept anything short of a murder conviction from these brutal killers. Julia Carson's grandson will spend at least 60 years of his 120-year sentence and he didn't even kill his victims. What is wrong with people down there. Are they too hopped up on meth to understand what is happening in their own community?

Denise Travers said...

Well Gary, I see that your compassion is on-par with your manners, i.e. non-existent.

Methinks you can't really bother yourself to imagine what it's like to live in a community like Crothersville. If you would, it might occur to you that there's more to their decision than laziness or ignorance.

I wish things had gone differently, too -- but beating up on the victims doesn't help anyone. Well, except perhaps your ego? It's very interesting to me that you're so concerned about an "insult to the public order" that you're willing to insult (and more) Aaron's survivors.

Until you have experienced losing a family member violently and shockingly, you might consider masking your utter disdain. At least a little bit. Or, is that even possible?

By the by, you're wrong about the family's "sensitivity" regarding Aaron's sexuality. Not a one of them cares whether he was gay or not. Each of them have confirmed that they'd have loved him no less if he had been gay. Each of them says that they believe Aaron was straight, but also acknowledge that it's certainly possible that there were parts of his life they might not know about.

Advance Indiana said...

Denise, I don't need any lectures from you. You are the ego-driven, win-at-all cost reporter who ran down to the Hall family and told them not to talk to anyone but you because they couldn't trust anyone else. You didn't even know about this case until I brought it to your attention. I have absolutely no respect for the complete ruthlessness with which you went about your work on this story.

Anonymous said...

Gary, Don't pay any attention to Denise. She's so full of herself she's unbearable to be around. Thanks so much for all your efforts in getting hate crimes legislation enacted in Indiana and drawing much-needed attention to this case. If you hadn't started blogging about the Hall case, it would have gone completely unnoticed. I think we are beginning to changes some hearts and minds. Maybe this will be the year Indiana finally passes a hate crimes law.

Advance Indiana said...

Thanks for your kind comments, anon 7:42. I think WTHR's Jenny Runovitch deserves credit for her early reporting on the case. The mainstream media's interest in this story unfortunately waned after a few early reports.

Anonymous said...

Denise said, "It's very interesting to me that you're so concerned about an "insult to the public order" that you're willing to insult (and more) Aaron's survivors."

Denise, I read your story in The Alternative about Aaron Hall. You totally trashed his life and made him out to be a completely unsympathetic victim. It's kind of like the pot calling the kettle black for you to claim Gary is insulting Hall's family for going along with the plea agreement. You have everyone beat when it comes to insulting the Hall family.

Denise Travers said...

Gary, I just want to take a moment to apologize publicly for my last comment to this post. While you and I disagree on a great many aspects of this case, it was irresponsible of me to insult you, especially on your own blog.

Anon 7:42: "She's so full of herself she's unbearable to be around." Care to enlighten me more about this opinion? I'm positively flummoxed, and can therefore only assume that a)we've never met and b)you're simply flaming.

Anon 10:30: "You have everyone beat when it comes to insulting the Hall family." Then why is it that the Hall family has approached me to write a book with them about Aaron's murder, and the general state of "jurisprudence" in Jackson County?

If either of the anon posters are interested in continuing this discussion in a more appropriate location, please email me at citizendlt@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

It was an insult to the victim to call him gay when he was not. Just because he was insulted does not mean that he was gay. As for hate crimes legislation, it is just an attempt by gays and lesbians to grab power, and we and they all know it. Gays and lesbians all vote Democrat so this is a Democrat issue anyway.