Friday, July 10, 2009

Should attacks on the homeless be added
to Florida's hate crimes law?

A bill that would add crimes committed with malice against the homeless to Florida's list of hate crimes has been filed.

"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.


At 6:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Given that on the Average 1 in 4 homeless are veterans, I say yes, it should be a hate crime. I think it is disgusting that Americans (they dare call themselves that) attack those that defended their liberties and freedoms. You have a funny way of thanking us for everything we have done. You make us feel as if we aren't even welcome in our own country. Next time you want your freedoms protected, do it yourself. Given the gratitude you show us, I feel it wasn't worth the sacrifice. What makes this worse is that sometimes your children do this as sport.

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