An Indiana hate crimes law may become reality next year after House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) endorsed the idea in the wake of white supremacist violence in Virginia last weekend.
Gov. Eric Holcomb called the events in Charlottesville – in which a woman was killed when a car allegedly driven by a white supremacist protester plowed into a crowd of counter protesters – “sickening.”
“[I] obviously condemn those type of actions. There’s nothing supreme about those white supremacists other than their stupidity and that’s all I have to say about it,” Holcomb says.
Indiana is one of five states without any hate crimes legislation and Holcomb says he’ll explore changing that during next year’s legislative session.
Bosma says judges can already consider a criminal’s motivation during sentencing. But he says the state needs a specific hate crimes bill.
“Dispel, really, the misconception that that cannot be considered by a judge in sentencing – because it can be,” Bosma says.
The state Senate passed a bill in 2016 to make it an aggravating circumstance if a crime is committed because of an individual’s characteristics, such as race, religion or sexual orientation. That measure died in the House.
A similar measure couldn’t get a vote on the Senate floor this year.