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Louisville’s Sen. Neal wants more bite in Kentucky hate crime laws, is proposing legislation

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

A veteran state lawmaker is proposing legislation for the 2019 General Assembly to strengthen Kentucky’s hate crime laws.

Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, says his measure is in direct response to the recent shooting deaths at a Kroger in Jeffersontown and a rise in acts of violence motivated by bigotry and hate in other communities in the state.

Gerald Neal

He also cites the shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh that left 11 people dead as part of the motivation for his bill.

“The current hate crimes legislation in Kentucky is useless,” Neal said. “It provides no appropriate response to this insidious form of violence that targets people because of their racial, religious, ethnic, or other identified group affiliations. We are called upon to correct this.”

His proposal would repeal the current statute, which he says carries no criminal penalty on its own, besides denial of probation or parole.  In its place, a new hate crime law would:

–Carry a penalty of 10 years or more in prison

–Incorporate the offenses that were covered under the current law

–Add homicide to the list of offenses

–Classify hate crimes under the violent offender statute

–Deny probation or parole for a hate crime until at least 85 percent of the sentence is served

Across the nation, hate crimes were on the rise for the third consecutive year in 2017, according to figures quoted by Neal. The FBI data showed an increase in hate crimes nationally went up 17 percent and there was an even bigger increase in anti-Semite attacks.

“This sharp increase in hate crimes follows a slight decrease in overall violent crimes across America,” said Neal. “As a state and country, we cannot allow hate crimes to persist. We must address this issue. Hate crimes violate the core values of Kentuckians and Americans.”

Two Louisville House Republicans, Jerry Miller and Jason Nemes, have also filed legislation for the 2019 General Assembly that would add criminal homicide and fetal homicide to Kentucky’s hate crimes statute, as well as the attempt to commit or solicit those crimes.

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