Arkansas lawmakers propose hate crime legislation

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Today a push for Arkansas to fall in line with other states that have passed hate crime legislation.

The natural state is one of three states that does not have that law on the books.

“To send the right consistent message across our state and nation that hate should not be tolerated and individuals should not be targeted for who they are,” said Governor Hutchinson.

Lawmakers gathered at the capitol today to introduce a draft of a hate crime bill. Arkansas is one of only three states that don’t have any type of hate crime legislation and many state leaders are hoping to rally the general assembly before the next session.

“We need to say clearly that Arkansas will not tolerate violence against anyone because of their race or religion or because of who they are,” said Governor Hutchinson.

On Wednesday, Lawmakers gathered at the capitol to introduce a hate crime bill that will be presented in the next general session it has been tried before without any luck.

“I’m not sure there’s many more important challenges that we’ve taken on in Arkansas and what we need to do to pass hate crimes legislation,” said State Senator Jim Hendren.

The bill itself lists several categories in which people can be targeted as a hate crime but not all lawmakers are on board with the idea.

“It does offer projections for based on a list of certain special classes and I just don’t think that’s what we want to do as a society I think we should start treating everyone equally,” said State Senator Bob Ballinger.

State Representative Tippi McCullough points out that there has been a rise in hate crimes, especially amongst the LGBTQ community.

“Are we seeing these things that happen, that this bill with an address? The answer is yes,” said McCullough.

But Jerry Cox with Family Council, who has been an opponent of hate crime laws in the past released a statement saying:

“Hate crime laws do not work. There is no evidence that these laws in other states have ever prevented a crime. We all wish hatred could be stopped by just passing a law against it, but this simply isn’t possible,” said Jerry Cox.

Representative Frederick love does believe the enhanced sentencing will work.

“If we have the opportunity to deter people from acting on that hate I think it is important we use the means of legislation,” said State Representative Frederick Love.

Lawmakers in support of this drafted bill say this is one thing that they don’t want to state to be last in.

“And being one of only three or even worse the only state without these basic protections the majority of Arkansas support center horrible message about who Arkansas is,” said State Senator Jim Hendren.

The punishments for a hate crime carr a 20% increase in any punishment handed down from a conviction whether it be prison time, fines, or probation, and if it is determined that anyone brings a false, malicious, or groundless claim could be charged with Class C Felony.

You can see the draft legislation by clicking here.

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