Howard discusses bipartisan support for hate-crimes addition

HARRISBURG, Oct. 22 – State Rep. Kristine Howard, D-Chester, held a Capitol news conference today in support of her H.B. 1344, which would allow prosecutors to charge  crimes against people with intellectual or physical disabilities as hate crimes.

“Attacks committed against individuals with disabilities represent some of the most repugnant imaginable,” said Howard, D-Chester, “and yet, they are punished with little more than a slap on the wrist.”

She highlighted a critical gap in Pennsylvania’s criminal code: attacks committed against individuals with disabilities do not receive the additional consideration that is given to crimes committed against an individual based on race, color, religion or national origin.

This new bill, which comes in response to several recent attacks, would revise the state criminal code to ensure that crimes against individuals with intellectual or physical disabilities are given the same consideration as those based on race, color, religion or national origin.

The Arc of Pennsylvania, a nonprofit that provides services and programs for people with disabilities, advocated for the addition and worked on the legislation closely with Howard and state Sen. Thomas Killion, R-Chester/Delaware.

Howard’s bill is a bipartisan companion to Killion’s S.B. 444, which also is in response to a recent slew of attacks on individuals with disabilities.