Today I was talking with my wife regarding Oregon law which states that crimes committed on a person with a disability can be considered a hate crime. Although the term "handicap" creeps me out to no end, it's there... clearly stated. This being the case, the obvious question is how many of the crimes I and others have been writing about have been prosecuted as hate crimes? I'm thinking that the answer is prbably "none".
ORS § 181.642
Mandates training on the investigation, identification and reporting of crimes "motivated by prejudice based on the perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status, political affliliation or beliefs, membership or activity in or on behalf of a labor organization or against a labor organization, physical or mental handicap, age, economic or social status or citizenship of the victim."
ORS § 181.550
Mandates the reporting of crimes "motivated by prejudice based on the perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status, political affiliation or beliefs, membership or activity in or on behalf of a labor organization or against a labor organization, physical or mental handicap, age, economic or social status or citizenship of the victim."
In Ohio a bill is being carried to have hate crime status for people with disabilities...
Bill Adds Disability to Hate Crime Law
Expansion spurred by recent attack
By Alex Shebar • email@example.com • June 28, 2008
State Sen. Eric Kearney (D-Cincinnati) is introducing a bill that would grant people with disabilities protection under Ohio's hate crime law.
Senate Bill 349 was prompted by February's attack of Ashley Clark, a mentally disabled Talawanda High School senior.
"Anyone can become disabled ... I think people realize that it's a great equalizer," Kearney said Friday.
"Most families have somebody, a relative, who is disabled and people will empathize with that."
Hate crime laws provide additional punishment for criminal offenses if the crime can be shown to be motivated by race or animosity toward specific groups of people.
If the bill is passed, it would put disability in the same category as race, color, religion, and national origin.
"This will put people on notice that the state of Ohio views those actions with the same severity as they do crimes against any other group," said Lin Laing, executive director for Center for Independent Living Options in Cincinnati.
Kearney is a member of the center's board of directors.
Ohio is one of 23 states that do not include disability as part of their hate crimes legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
If the proposed law were already in place, Kearney contends that the attack against Ashley Clark would qualify as a hate crime because her disability appears to be a key reason why she was targeted.
In February, Clark was violently attacked in her Hanover Township home allegedly by Cheyenne Blanton, 17, and Joseph Nagle, 16, both of Hamilton.
Prosecutors say the pair tied Clark up, beat her with a baseball bat, robbed her, cut off her hair and destroyed her prom dress.
The court has ruled that Blanton and Nagle should be tried as adults.
The proposed law would have no bearing on their trials.
The Clark family was not available for comment Friday. Kearney said he has not spoken with Clark or her family, but is pushing the bill to prevent such an attack from happening again.
While the proposed bill would be a good protective measure, the public should not view all people with disabilities as defenseless, said Suzanne Hopkins, director of programs for Independent Living Options.
Hopkins has a congenial disability that caused her to be born without limbs.
"I don't want the disability community to be looked upon as vulnerable, because not all disabilities are vulnerable," she said. "It's dependent on the disability that the individual has and any protective measures they have."
Kearney said he hopes to see the bill assigned to a committee when the legislature returns to session in September.
He said it could come up for a vote as early as December.