JOLIET, Ill. – A new law sponsored by state Rep. Larry Walsh, Jr., D-Elwood, to crack down on hate crimes against houses of worship and increase penalties for those convicted of committing hate crimes will take effect Jan. 1, 2018.
“Racist remarks by Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, and others on the far right have fueled an atmosphere of hate and intolerance, and that has led to a shocking rise in unacceptable acts of hatred and intolerance,” Walsh said. “I refuse to sit back without taking action to defend all Americans, which is why I sponsored a law to ensure that those who commit crimes are brought to justice and that victims receive fair financial compensation.”
Responding to incidents of vandalism and racist graffiti targeting houses of worship throughout Illinois, Walsh’s House Bill 2390 allows police and prosecutors to charge criminals who target religious institutions with a hate crime. His measure also requires community service ordered following a conviction must be performed in the county where the offender was convicted of the crime. Individuals convicted of committing hate crimes must attend in-person educational classes focused on discouraging hate crimes against the targeted group.
Walsh’s new law also gives judges the ability to determine a fair financial amount based on the severity of the crime and damages suffered by the victim. Parents and legal guardians would also be financially responsible for crimes committed by minors.
“Our diversity is our strength, so when someone attacks an individual because of their background or belief, they are attacking all Americans,” Walsh said. “Another key component of this new law is the education requirement, because the only way to combat hate is through educating individuals of the importance of acceptance.”