Monday, March 26, 2007

SB 1458

Arthenia Joyner is pushing SB 1458. The bill would make attacks on the homeless a hate crime.

An act relating to assault or battery on homeless persons; amending s. 775.085, F.S.; reclassifying offenses evidencing prejudice based on the homeless status of the victim; providing a definition; creating s. 784.0815, F.S.; providing a definition; providing a minimum sentence and other penalties for a person convicted of an aggravated assault or aggravated battery upon a homeless person; providing an effective date.

I'm skeptical the bill will go very far in the conseevative Senate. Republicans shy away from hate crime legislation. Which is amusing. Considering they make Draconian laws for nonviolent offenses.

The real reason Republicans don't support hate crime legislation is it goes counter to their Southern strategy. The GOP base is strongly xenophobic. Republicans are against gay marriage and affirmative action because it keeps their base happy. The problem is xenaphobia doesn't have the punch it once did. Immigration was an issue that siphoned voters away from Republicans during the midterms.

The bill would require proof that prejudice was the cause of the assault against a homeless person. Physically beating another person is still a crime. Regardless of whether the bill is passed. What would happen if the bill became law is that homeless assaults would carry a stiffer penalty. A National Coalition for the Homeless report ranked Florida as the most dangerous state for homeless people to live.

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