New bill strengthens prosecution of hate crimes in Washington state
OLYMPIA, Wash. (KPTV) - A bill passed in Washington is expanding the state’s definition of a hate crime and strengthens the ability to prosecute those crimes.
Governor Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5623 into law on April 6 after it was passed with overwhelming support in the House and Senate earlier this year.
SB 5623 will allow courts to impose therapeutic treatment for offenders meant to rehabilitate them. This is something that the victims of hate crimes often ask for in court.
Supporters of the bill say that the only way to combat hate is through education and that’s hopefully what this bill can do.
The bill also expands the definition of a hate crime. Right now, assaults have to result in a physical injury for it to be considered a hate crime.
Under the new bill, assaults that are meant to intimidate or demean but don’t result in injury can be considered a hate crime. An example of that would be spitting on someone.
Supporters of the bill say hate crimes are corrosive to society and make communities feel unwelcome.
In Washington state, there were more than 500 hate crimes committed against a person in 2021, according to the Department of Justice. Their data shows the biggest motivators of hate crimes are largely race and ethnicity, followed by sexual orientation and then religion.
The bill will go into effect this summer, on July 23.
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