Should attacks on the homeless be added
A bill that would add crimes committed with malice against the homeless to Florida's list of hate crimes has been filed.
to Florida's hate crimes law?
"Homeless men and women are often sought out as easy targets," said state Rep. Ari Porth, who's a prosecutor in the Broward State Attorney's Office when the Legislature isn't in session.
Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti said the enhanced penalty of the hate-crimes law would serve as a deterrent. "You shouldn't be targeted because of who you are or what you are. That's just wrong."
Under the legislation, a finding that an incident was motivated by hate could enhance a crime's punishment. Porth said a misdemeanor battery punishable by up to a year in jail could get the punishment for a third-degree felony, up to five years in prison.
Florida sorely needs such a law, said Michael Stoops, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless. The state is No. 4 in population but No. 1 in attacks on homeless people for 2005, 2006, and 2007, with a total of 111 reported incidents during those three years, he said. Numbers for 2008 are still being compiled.
Read the South Florida Sun-Sentinel story here.
Only one state -- Maryland -- has such a law on the books. See previous post here.