By P J Klosinski
You are not less valuable than any other individual Unless Indiana passes a law which states you are. Laws continue to be discussed and implemented which determine some individuals are entitled to have enhanced punishment executed on those who do them harm. HB 1066 which I reviewed shortly after it was posted received only a few comments so I am surprised at the reaction to the passage out of committee of a bill SB 439 referred to by some as a “hate crime” bill. There are more than two “Bias Crime” bills making the rounds in the Indiana General Assembly. These types of bills are nothing new past sessions have seen similar.
What is a Bias Motivated Crime?
HB 1066 reviewed prior amends IC 10-13-3-1 to define a “bias-motivated crime” as a crime in which “the person who commits the crime knowingly or intentionally selects: the individual against whom the crime was committed; or any property damaged or otherwise affected by the crime; in whole or in part because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, or disability of the individual or a group of individuals, whether or not the person’s belief or perception was correct.” IC 10-13-3-38 would be amended to require Each law enforcement agency to collect and submit information concerning bias-motivated crimes to the Indiana central repository for criminal history information in the manner and form prescribed using the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) format as required by the department. Further, a new condition is that each law enforcement agency shall submit data regarding the commission of bias-motivated crimes to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. HB 1066 amended IC 35-38-1-7.1 adding to the already listed “special individuals” to be given special consideration when determining punishment of the person committing the crime “the individual against whom the crime was committed; or any property damaged or otherwise affected by the crime; in whole or in part because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, or disability of the individual or a group of individuals, whether or not the person’s belief or perception was correct.” The court power when determining additional punishment would extend not only to persons identified but also property. The result is that some individuals are more worthy of consideration when deciding the punishment for a crime committed against them. These special circumstances are to be based specifically upon government selected identified characteristics.
Who determines Aggravating Circumstances?
SB 439 which passed out of committee amends IC 35-31.5-2-260.2, to include what a “Relative” of a public safety official means. Then IC 35-38-1-7.1 is amended to provide the court consideration of aggravating circumstances “In determining what sentence to impose for a crime”. In determining the sentence based upon preferential aggravating circumstances the court may consider: “The person committed the offense with the intent to harm or intimidate an individual because of the individual’s perceived or actual: race; religion; color; sex; gender identity; disability; national origin; ancestry; sexual orientation; or status as a public safety official or a relative of a public safety official.”
Who identifies what a Bias Motivated Crime is?
SB 336 has three distinct proposals. First, the bill amends IC 5-2-1-9 adding that the board shall adopt all necessary rules to carry out the provisions of this chapter and that “ the standards adopted by the board for each program described in this subsection must include requirements for mandatory training in identifying, responding to, and reporting bias-motivated crimes.” The programs include the minimum basic training program required for a law enforcement officer; the mandatory in-service training program required for police officers and police reserve officers; the town marshal basic training program; and the police chief executive training program. Second, SB 336 now mirrors the language in HB 1066 defining the meaning of a “bias-motivated crime” and exactly matches the specified individuals and the court power when determining additional punishment which would extend to not only persons identified but also property. Third SB 336 follows the same reporting except the NIBRS format is not listed, however, the requirement of reporting the data to the Federal Bureau of Investigation is included.
What is “enhanced” punishment?
SB 270 would provide:” Battery on a sports official. Increases the penalty for battery if it is committed against an individual certified as a referee, an umpire, or an athletic official.” The bill adds yet another special consideration person defining that a “Certified athletic official“, means an individual serving as: a referee; an umpire; or an official; at an athletic event, if the individual has been certified as a referee, an umpire, or an official by a national certification program” is included in those covered under offenses committed against those listed as a public safety official which includes a law enforcement officer, employee of a penal facility, employee of the department of corrections, probation and parole officer, community corrections worker, home detention officer, department of child services employee, firefighter, emergency medical provider, a judicial officer and an individual related to those specified by blood, half-blood, adoption, marriage, or remarriage, is entitled to having imposed the specified penalties related to each listed offense.
Battery against utility workers requires Felony punishment?
HB 1388 would add Utility worker to the already extensive list of covered individuals and their relatives entitled to be vindicated through enhanced punishment. “Utility worker” means an individual employed by: a public utility; a municipally owned utility; a cable or satellite television company; a telecommunications carrier; an electric cooperative; a telephone cooperative; or nonprofit utility.” Punishment could increase to “a Level 6 felony from a Class B misdemeanor” and raises the offense to a Level 5 felony if the offender used bodily fluid or waste and knew or recklessly failed to know the substance was infected with hepatitis, tuberculosis, or human immunodeficiency virus.”
Another try to give preferential protection to utility workers.
HB 1480 just like HB 1388 defines and adds Utility worker to the already extensive list of covered individuals and their relatives entitled to be vindicated through enhanced punishment which could increase to“a Level 6 felony from a Class B misdemeanor. HB 1480 does not include the bodily substance clause instead this bill would make the offense a level 5 felony if it resulted in bodily injury.
Increased penalty for battery against public safety official or relative.
HB1297 “Increases the penalty for battery if it is committed against a public safety official or a relative of a public safety official because of the official’s status or perceived status as a public safety official, and increases the penalty for criminal recklessness if it is committed against: a public safety official while the official is engaged in the official’s official duties; or a public safety official or a relative of a public safety official if the offense is committed because of the official’s status or perceived status as a public safety official.” “Relative” means an individual related by blood, half-blood, adoption, marriage, or remarriage, including: spouse; parent or stepparent; child or stepchild; grandchild or stepgrandchild; grandparent or step-grandparent; brother, sister, stepbrother, or stepsister; niece or nephew; aunt or uncle; a daughter-in-law or son-in-law; mother-in-law or father-in-law; or a first cousin.”
What do all of the above bills have in common?
Simple, they all divide us into groups creating selected individuals because of their actual or perceived status who are provided greater protections because the penalties for harming these special people is determined to be greater than penalties for harm caused to all the others not included in the government preference list.
How do the people resolve the matter of government selecting special individuals?
The Oath taken by Indiana lawmakers binds them to the manner in which they conduct the business of the people. That solemn promise is to preserve the terms of the U.S. Constitution and the Indiana Constitution and all statutes of the general assembly of the state in force and not inconsistent with such constitutions. Why can there be any question as to the absolute responsibility of the members of the General Assembly? What will it take for individuals to stand up for their inalienable right to equality?
The absolute limit to the authority granted to Indiana government is established in Section 25 of our Indiana Constitution, “No law shall be passed, the taking effect of which shall be made to depend upon any authority, except as provided in this Constitution.” Can the language be any plainer? How can a law that is not authorized be passed?
WE DECLARE, That all people are created equal. Does there appear to be any qualification of equality based upon any individual characteristic?
How should “enhanced” penalty be justified?
Indiana has a constitutional protection which mandates “The penal code shall be founded on the principles of reformation, and not of vindictive justice.” How can enhanced punishment be considered anything other than revenge for harming a selected individual?
“Cruel and unusual punishments shall not be inflicted. All penalties shall be proportioned to the nature of the offense.” Shall and shall not are considered absolute in law so how can there be any qualification to punishment other than proportioned to the nature of the offense? Does there appear to be any exception to imposing punishment in excess of the compensation due to every victim executed in punishment of the offender because of the status of the victim?
We must demand adherence to the documents established to limit government and protect individual rights. Individuals are all equal in value by the very nature of our humanity. Why would elected officials under solemn Oath take the position that they have the right to determine selected individuals are of more value because of their differences? As individuals we are never the same as anyone else for government to assume the unauthorized authority to discriminate and determine harm caused to one is greater than the same harm caused to another is not conscionable.
Unequal circumstances of existence are what make us individuals. Individual rights are for all equally regardless of any differences associated with our existence. How can government place a higher value on the life or property of one and not discriminate against all others?