Hate crime law has developed and expanded substantially since its earliest forms. A concerted effort is currently underway to expand existing hate crime legislation to include the homeless.
This paper provides a history of both state and federal hate crime legislation, examines precisely what a hate crime is (and how that definition differs from state to state), explores the growing problem of violence against the homeless, and analyzes recent developments in expanding state and local law to protect based on homelessness.
It offers both arguments in favor and arguments against the expansion of hate crime laws to include the homeless and seeks to explicate the frequent criticisms leveled at hate crime legislation. Critics frequently complain that hate crime laws “create special groups” or “punish thought.” This paper responds and attempts to refute such criticisms.
It also seeks to establish that including homelessness within hate crime legislation will ultimately weaken the hands of both those who support existing hate crime laws, and in the author’s case, prosecute hate crimes before American juries.
Ultimately, through an analysis of the jurisprudence which serves as the basis for hate crime legislation, this paper concludes that expanding hate crime legislation to include the homeless will provide exactly the grist hate crime law opponents have thus far lacked.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/scott_steiner/3/