Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ballard Administration Restores Hate Crimes Reporting

In 2007, I broke the story on how IMPD under the Peterson administration had stopped collecting and reporting statistics on hate crimes as provided under Indiana law. The group which represents itself as Indiana's premier GLBT organization, Indiana Equality, refused to take action on the matter because it would shine an embarrassing light on Mayor Bart Peterson, who the group supported over Greg Ballard. Although the group claims to be nonpartisan, it operates as an extension of the Democratic Party. Now that Republican Greg Ballard is in office, the group decided something needed done to shine light on the problem. It's now taking credit for Public Safety Director Scott Newman's announcement that IMPD is taking steps to ensure compliance with Indiana's state reporting law.

Interestingly, today's story in the Star says that a police spokesman misspoke when he said last fall that Indianapolis doesn't track bias crimes because the definition of what constituted a hate crime was too subjective. The fact is the police department made a conscientious decision not to report hate crimes. I confirmed that fact with the department in 2007 when the FBI's latest crimes statistics indicated as much.

Indiana is one of only five states in the country without a hate crimes law allowing for the enhancement of a sentence for a crime committed because of bias against a person's race, nationality, religion, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity. When I complained to IE's president a couple of years ago about the lack of effort to enact a law here, the group's president said I didn't know what I was talking about because Indiana already had a law and she was responsible for its enactment, referring to the state's toothless reporting law.

Although the group joined in backing legislation Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi initiated, its efforts at the State House to support its passage have been abysmal. To put it bluntly, it isn't a priority with IE. House Speaker Pat Bauer refused to allow a third reading vote on Brizzi's bias crimes legislation in 2007. The group agreed with that action because it didn't want to hang out Democrats from conservative districts on a vote which might be used against them in their re-election races.

16 comments:

Patriot Paul said...

I would like to offer a minority opinion. There are 2 issues: 'tracking' (or reporting) hate crimes, and punishment for 'hate crimes'. I see nothing in our Constitution that supports tracking crimes or punishing based on bigoted motives, from which is exactly where hate crimes are derived. Murder is murder, abuse is abuse, and there are already laws in place for prosecution. Your life is no less important than mine. If two of us witness a bank hold-up and I'm in the way and get shot dead, and you are black and get shot dead just because you are black, we are both murdered and the same punishment applies for murder. To imply your murderer should get a higher sentence because he was also a bigoted racist, dislikes mixed company, or preferred wearing white hooded sheets or whatever other ill motive he may have does not lessen the fact that I am also dead because I was in the line of fire. We are all equal under the law and punishment for lawbreakers should be distributed just as evenly. To single out gays, minorities, protestants, muslims, skin color as some elevated protected and separate class of people deserving higher punishment for its murderers is arbitrary and absurd, and the list would never end. Last I checked we had a lady justice holding the balance of scales and wore a blindfold so we could not see these things in order for justice to be evenly distributed.

Advance Indiana said...

Well, then we need to repeal a whole law of criminal laws already on the books, Patriot Paul. The criminal code is replete with laws imposing harsher sentences based on aggravating factors. These laws have been litigated time and time again and the constitutionality thereof upheld. Why do we impose harsher sentences for persons committing crimes against law enforcement officers? We do so because it is viewed as an attack on every officer charged with maintaining the public order. If you can't understand the disparate impact between random crimes and those committed to send a message to an entire group of citizens, then you are ignoring the lessons of history.

Downtown Indy said...

Tis a slippery slope when what a person THINKS (or rather, what some lawyer contends they think) affects their penalty. This is considerably different from aggravated circumstances where the ACTIONS are considered during sentencing.

Indy4U2C said...

...and just how does a prosecutor PROVE hate?

Does Carnac-The-Magnificient testify as to the thought, mindset, beliefs of the criminal? -or do we remove the criminal's brain for forensic analysis as to thoughts?

I agree with Paul on this one: Crime is Crime...hate crimes cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt whereas the other aggravating factors (Gary mentioned) are facts that can be proven.

Lord Peter said...

I see nothing in our Constitution that supports tracking crimes or punishing based on bigoted motives, from which is exactly where hate crimes are derived.

I see nothing in our constitution that supports making robbery a crime. In fact, robbery is never mentioned in the constitution. Do you think that making robbery a crime is unconstitutional?

And, as AI pointed out, the Indiana Code is filled with crimes that are enhanced based on who the victim is or why the crime was committed. Crimes against people over 65, people under 12, police officers, firefighers, correctional officers, domestic partners...these are all enhanced due to who the victim is.

If you oppose a hate crimes bill because you don't care about certain victims, why don't you just say so and stop wasting people's time by pretending that there is some general principle of law that you are upholding.

Concerned Taxpayer said...

(shouting) THOUGHT POLICE! Hold it right there. Hands up! You're under arrest for THINKING bad thoughts!

So, I guess 80% of the crimes committed will be classified as "hate crimes." Because they are committed by black people against white people, and everybody knows that black people hate "whitey."

Advance Indiana said...

Not hardly, concerned taxpayer. Black on black crime is far more likely to occur that black on white crime. Bias crimes are established based upon admissible evidence, governed by the same rules of evidence for all criminal matters. Often, this comes in the form of admissions by the defendant from which inferences of bias may be inferred. Lord Peter is right. Time and time again the opponents of this legislation rely on bigoted stereotypes to defeat this legislation. The religious right, for example, portrays the legislation as affording "special rights to homosexuals and cross-dressers." The real reason for their opposition is to prevent Indiana law from in any way shape or form providing any type of legal protection to someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Patriot Paul said...

I have no doubt our legal system is packed with punishments based on aggravating or mitigating circumstances. That said, there are already laws on the books for remedy. But this is distinct from segregating whole segments of society into group crime victims based on certain prejudices and bias. You are asking Miss Justice to readjust her justice scales and unwrap the blindfold from one eye to peak with preference at the latest exploitation group. So much for colorblind justice. This leads to profiling with it's resulting abuses. Bad road to go down. Surely we can do better than these witch hunts.

Concerned Taxpayer said...

But you see, there is a problem. DPS Newman says, ""We needed to reaffirm that we take seriously our duty to protect all people equally in our jurisdiction,..."

This law would exactly NOT provide "equal protection." Instead, it would give some people more severe penalties just because of what they thought or said.

EXAMPLE: A person beats up someone. They get 30 days. Another person beats someone up, and utters a "hateful" statement. They get 60 days. Just because of what they said, not what they did. If you call that fair, you are an extreme liberal.

Advance Indiana said...

By that tortured logic, concerned taxpayer, there would be only one crime for killing another person. Thankfully, our legal system creates degrees of culpability based on what a person's intent was at the time of the killing. A guy uses a gun to kill someone in retaliation for something the other person did wrong. A guy acts as a lookout in a hold up at the convenience store and the clerk resists and gets shot. A guy beats up the guy sleeping with his wife and kills him. A guy gets drunk, drives 100 mph and smashes into another car killing an entire family. In each case, the actor is charged with killing another person, but the degree of culpability assigned to each crime will result in widely varying sentencing. To answer your question, I don't think the guy who beats up another guy over a card game should get as tough of a sentence as the guy who beat up a complete stranger simply because he believed the person was gay. Do you think Indiana, Arkansas, South Carolina, Georgia and Wyoming have a more enlightened view of crime than all the 45 other states which have enacted bias crime laws?

Ted said...

The nation owes more than thanks to three unlikely modern day patriots: professional poker player, musician, and retired attorney, Leo Donofrio; life long Democrat and former Pennsylvania assistant attorney general, Phil Berg; and Soviet emigree and attorney, Dr. Orly Taitz (she’s also a dentist).

While Mr. Donofrio painstakingly established the airtight case that BHO could not be an Article II “natural born citizen” (at BHO’s birth, dad was British/Kenyan, not American, citizen) Leo’s Stay of the 12/15/08 electoral college vote was denied by SCOTUS as procedurally unripe.

Nevertheless, since no congressman and senator objected on 1/8/09 to Congress’ count and certification of the electoral vote which would have turned resolution of Obama’s eligibility issue over to Congress — rendering moot the Berg and Taitz (Lightfoot) cases — Berg finally does achieve standing on the issue of actual harm, to be addressed at the Friday 1/9/09 SCOTUS Conference on Writ of Certiorari. Obama’s failure to submit evidence of his constitutional qualification for the 1/9/09 conference will mean he cannot thereafter challenge Berg’s request to enjoin the 1/8/09 Congressional electoral count and certification, albeit retroactive, scheduled for SCOTUS conference Friday 1/16/09. Moreover, Chief Justice Roberts has scheduled a full Court conference on the Lightfoot case Friday 1/23/09 in the event there needs to be a Constitutionally mandated action, the Inauguration itself, to enjoin retroactively.

Now that BHO is in checkmate and cannot be POTUS, he can be a patriot as well. He need not subject the nation to the expense and trauma of requiring SCOTUS to overrule his ‘Presidency’. BHO can and should voluntarily step down with Biden becoming Acting POTUS under the 20th Amendment, and under the agreement all potential claims by the Government for itself and on behalf of others against BHO are released.

artfuggins said...

Oh, Ted ...get a life...you have a new president who is not only a Democrat but an African American.....move on!

Concerned Taxpayer said...

"...I don't think the guy who beats up another guy over a card game should get as tough of a sentence as the guy who beat up a complete stranger simply because he believed the person was gay..."

What if the card player called the other guy a "racist" name?

Concerned Taxpayer said...

"Do you think Indiana, Arkansas, South Carolina, Georgia and Wyoming have a more enlightened view of crime than all the 45 other states which have enacted bias crime laws?"

No. I think the other states: 1) Folded to extreme liberal pressure
and/or
2) Folded to extreme "political correctness" pressure.

Concerned Taxpayer said...

"A guy uses a gun to kill someone in retaliation for something the other person did wrong. A guy acts as a lookout in a hold up at the convenience store and the clerk resists and gets shot. A guy beats up the guy sleeping with his wife and kills him. A guy gets drunk, drives 100 mph and smashes into another car killing an entire family."

First example: actual crime could range from murder 1, 2, or 3 degree, or manslaughter.

Second example: felony murder.

Third example: manslaughter, unless time spent planning it, etc, then elevates to murder.

Fourth example: vehicular manslaughter.

All completely different crimes.

Advance Indiana said...

concerned taxpayer, as you know, they are made separate crimes based upon the mens rea (the criminal intent) of the accused. The prosecutor has discretion based on the evidence of what the accused's mental state of mind was at the time he committed the crime. Yes, the "thought" determines whether he is executed, spends the rest of his life in jail or spends a few years in jail. The same result happened in each case. One person killed another person. We differentiate among these acts because of simple logic. Prosecutors will sometimes abuse their authority and over-charge a case. That's why we have courts that review convictions to determine fairness and legality. The card-playing racist example is up to the prosecutor, as it is in all cases, to determine the appropriate crime. Under the proposed bias crimes legislation, the accused would be charged with the exact same crime. If he is convicted, he can choose to use that evidence as an aggravating factor calling for an enhanced sentence. The judge ultimately decides if there is evidence to support the aggravating factor.