West Chester, PA – State Senator Tom Killion (R-9) was joined by Rep. Becky Corbin (R-155) and Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan to announce proposed legislation to expand Pennsylvania’s hate crime statute. The proposal was motivated by recent attacks in West Chester, Chester County, and the Germantown section of Philadelphia.
Senate Bill 749 and House Bill 1528 will add individuals with intellectual or physical disabilities to those protected by Pennsylvania’s hate crime statute.
“Two recent attacks against disabled individuals were appalling and repugnant crimes against the victims and society as a whole,” said Killion. “We are better than that and we cannot allow such deplorable conduct to be tolerated. Senate Bill 749 will give prosecutors the ability hold the individuals perpetrating these despicable crimes accountable. I commend District Attorney Hogan for bringing this gap in the law to our attention and his leadership in working with us to fix this problem” added Killion.
“Every person has unique talents and contributions that should be valued by the community,” Corbin said. “We need to celebrate our differences and stop discrimination and bullying of those who are not identical to us. I am hopeful this legislation will send a strong message that we will not stand for this type of behavior. Those who target people with disabilities should face the full force of the law.”
Currently, prosecutors can only consider enhanced charges under Pennsylvania’s hate crime statute for certain crimes committed with intentional malice against someone based on their race, color, religion or national origin.
District Attorney Hogan stated, “This legislation would give prosecutors a critical tool to help protect vulnerable victims. The law also would allow us to punish those bullies who attack people with disabilities. We appreciate the fact that Senator Killion and Representative Corbin immediately jumped into the battle on the side of law enforcement and outraged members of the public to enact this just and timely bill.”
There has been an ongoing effort to expand community placements for individuals with disabilities in Pennsylvania. More citizens are participating in community-based residential and vocational programs.
“We support this very important legislation that will protect the rights and safety of individuals with disabilities. We are extremely grateful to our elected officials for their loyal partnership and for their legislative efforts. We urge all of our elected officials to support this important legislation, “said Maureen Cronin, Executive Director of The Arc of Pennsylvania and Jeanne Meikrantz Executive Director of the local Chapter The Arc of Chester County.
Office of Senator Tom Killion: Mike Stoll, 610-436-3320
Office of Representative Becky Corbin: Tracy Polovick, 717-260-6358
Office of Chesco D.A. Thomas P Hogan: Barbara Billela, 610-344-6827