The Senate approved a
bill yesterday that would make Maryland the
second state to add homeless people to the
groups protected under hate crimes laws.
The legislation was
approved 38 to 9 after a brief but pointed
debate over whether ample evidence existed
that homeless people are being targeted for
crimes. Some critics also said the measure
watered down the original hate crimes law by
adding another group.
Under current law,
violators are subject to additional
penalties if their crime is motivated by
another person's race, color, religious
beliefs, sexual orientation or national
Sen. Alex X. Mooney
(R-Frederick) said he thought homeless
people should be included under the law,
based on numerous attacks reported across
the country. Maine passed a similar measure
The bill goes to
the House of Delegates for approval.
"Maryland has made
it clear they are going to have the policy
of hate crimes [laws]. Going right along
with that, it's only fair to include
vulnerable groups in our society," Mooney
on homeless people have been on the rise.
The National Coalition for the Homeless
recorded 142 incidents last year, up from 86
in 2005 and the most since the survey began
in 1999. The group has recorded two attacks
in Maryland in the past three years; one
resulted in a death.