Senate President Looney Hails Judiciary Committee’s Bipartisan Passage of Strongest Anti-Hate Crimes Legislation in the Nation
Senate President Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven) today hailed the Judiciary Committee’s bipartisan approval of a comprehensive proposal to strengthen Connecticut’s hate crime laws making them the strongest in the nation.
In recent months, incidents of hate including murders, assaults, bomb threats and vandalism have been directed against African-Americans, Hindu-Americans, Hispanics, Jews, Muslims, Sikh- Americans, transgender women and others in Connecticut and across America.
“Today’s vote in the Judiciary Committee sends a strong message that hate crimes and bigotry have no place in Connecticut,” said Senator Looney. “Our hate crimes proposal will make Connecticut the national leader in the fight against these despicable acts, and it will serve as a model for other states looking to combat hate crimes based on bigotry and bias. I am pleased that the Republicans joined in supporting this Democratic proposal.”
- Strengthens hate crime laws by increasing penalties, making it a felony (instead of a misdemeanor) for committing a hate crime against a group of persons (instead of a specific individual.)
- Strengthens and modernizes Connecticut’s hate crime laws to include hate crimes based on gender (sex). Current law protects only “gender identity or expression,” not gender.
- Strengthens hate crime laws by increasing the penalty to a Class C felony (from a Class D felony) for making a bomb threat or other threat of violence against a house of worship, religious community center or other religious institution—or any daycare facility—if the threat is made with the intent to terrorize another person or to cause the evacuation of the building or grounds. This puts the penalty for such bomb threats on par with threats made against schools.
- Strengthens hate crime laws by increasing the penalty for desecrating any house of worship or any religious cemetery from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class C felony if there is more than $10,000 in damage, or a Class D felony if there is less than $10,000 in damage.
- Strengthens hate crime laws by expanding the threshold for a 1st-degree hate crime from its current requirement of causing “serious physical injury” to instead causing “physical injury.”
- Strengthens hate crime laws by punishing attempts to commit them, by including in the 2nd-degree hate crime statute attempts to damage, destroy or deface property.
- Establishes a court’s power to order extensive, relevant community service and/or restitution, in addition to any other penalties imposed for hate crime convictions.
- Establishes a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000 for individuals convicted of hate crimes, and requires such fines to be deposited into a fund for anti-hate crime education initiatives.
- Creates a state-wide Hate Crimes Advisory Council.
- Creates and publicizes a hate crimes hot line and a text line for reporting incidents of harassment or intimidation of minority groups in the state.
- Allows an employee to take up to 16 hours of job-protected leave in one year if the employee has to leave work due to an evacuation of his or her child’s school or day care facility.