Hate Crimes Against the Homeless
Over the past 12 years, advocates and homeless shelter workers from around the country have received news reports of men, women and even children being harassed, kicked, set on fire, beaten to death, and even decapitated. From 1999 through 2010, in 47 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, DC, there have been 1,184 acts of violence committed by housed individuals. Those incidents have included setting a man on fire, pushing a sleeping woman into a river, and beating a woman’s face with a tire-iron. In many cases, the attackers have never met the victims, and they don’t benefit materially from the attacks; they are motivated only by a dehumanizing bias against homeless persons. Such attacks deserve to be called what they are: hate crimes
PHOENIX, ARIZONA–November 3, 2010
When a homeless man was accused of stealing a bike, he denied that he did it. The man continued walking. The car, driven by the accuser, followed, hit and dragged his body for approximately ten feet. A witness says that the car hit the man on purpose because the car did not stop as the man was yelling in pain. The man suffered lacerations all over his body and was taken to a hospital to be treated.
What "We the People of the State of Arizona are asking from our legislators and the Honorable Janice K, Brewer, the esteemed Governor Of the State of Arizona.
Whereas, hate crimes and violence against homeless persons has become a nationwide wave, with over a thousand reported cases of violence against homeless people over the past twelve years (1999-2010), resulting in 312 deaths; Whereas, the scope of prohibitions against the commission of hate crimes against certain groups
of persons should include homeless persons;
Whereas, understanding violent crimes committed against homeless persons and adequate punishment for such crimes play key roles in preventing and managing violence against homeless persons; and
Whereas, law enforcement needs proper training to handle and prevent violent crimes against homeless persons;
Be it enacted:
(1) For the purposes of this legislation, a "homeless person" means an individual or member of a family as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 11302 (2009) and any regulations promulgated there under.
( 2 ) The state hate crimes statute shall be expanded to include homeless persons as a protected class.
( 3 ) Prohibition on Hate Crimes against Homeless Persons – The following acts shall be deemed a hate crime and prohibited when carried out against a person on the basis that person’s status as a homeless person:
(A) Assault, aggravated assault, battery, or aggravated battery upon the person; or
(B) Acts that deface, damage, or destroy or attempt to deface, damage, or destroy the personal property of the person; or
(C) Acts that result in the death of the person; or
(D) Any other crime against the person.
Punishments for Hate Crimes against Homeless Persons –
(A) A person convicted of aggravated assault or aggravated battery upon a homeless person based on the victim’s status as a homeless person shall be sentenced to a minimum term of 3 years and fined not more than $10,000. The person shall be ordered by the sentencing judge to make any restitution to the victim of the offense and to perform 500 hours of community service work. Restitution and community service work shall be in addition to any fine or sentence that may be imposed and shall not be in lieu thereof.
(B) Whenever a person is charged with committing an assault or aggravated assault or a battery or aggravated battery upon a homeless person based on the victim’s status as a homeless person, the offense for which the person is charged shall be reclassified as follows:
(1) In the case of aggravated battery, from a felony of the second degree to a felony of the first degree.
(2) In the case of aggravated assault, from a felony of the third degree to a felony of the second degree.
(3) In the case of battery, from a misdemeanor of the first degree to a felony of the third degree.
(4) In the case of assault, from a misdemeanor of the second degree to a misdemeanor of the first degree.
State Office of the Attorney General Study -
(A) The Office of the Attorney General shall assess the extent of the problem of crimes against homeless persons and develop a plan to prevent these crimes and apprehend and prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes.
(B) In developing the assessment and plan, the Office of the Attorney General shall consult homeless persons, service providers and advocates for homeless persons and law enforcement agencies with experience investigating crimes against homeless persons.
Law Enforcement Training on Hate Crimes against Homeless Persons
(A) The lead state law enforcement agency shall develop a telecourse that shall be made available to all law enforcement agencies in the state. Every state, local, and correctional law enforcement agency shall certify that each of its officers has taken the course. The telecourse shall address crimes against homeless persons and methods of dealing effectively and humanely with homeless persons. The course shall include instruction on each of the following topics:
(1) Information about homelessness, including causes of homelessness, its impact, and solutions to homelessness.
(2) Indicators of hate crimes.
(3) The impact of these crimes on the victim, the victim’s family, and the community.
(4) The assistance and compensation available to victims.
(5) The laws dealing with hate crimes and the legal rights of, and the
remedies available to, victims of hate crimes.
(6) Law enforcement procedures, reporting, and documentation of hate
(7) Techniques and methods to handle incidents of hate crimes.
(8) The special problems inherent in hates crimes against homeless persons
and techniques on how to deal with these special problems.
(B) The lead state law enforcement agency shall develop a protocol that law enforcement personnel are required to follow, including, but not limited, to the
(1) Preventing likely hate crimes by, among other things, establishing contact
with persons and communities that are likely targets, and forming and
cooperating with community hate crime prevention and response
(2) Responding to reports of hate crimes, including reports of hate crimes committed under color of legal authority.
(3) Providing victim assistance and follow up, including community follow up.
(4) Reporting methods and procedures to track hate crimes against homeless persons.
(C) In developing the telecourse, the lead state law enforcement agency shall consult subject matter experts including, but not limited to, the following:
(1) Homeless and formerly homeless individuals;
(3) Other local homeless service providers and advocates for homeless
(4) Experts on the disabilities homeless persons commonly experience; and
(5) Law enforcement agencies with experience investigating hate crimes against homeless people.
Policy/Community Education Recommendations The National Coalition for the Homeless recommends the following:
1. “Homeless status” should be included in the federal hate crimes statistics statute. Doing so would require the Federal Bureau of Investigation to collect data on hate-motivated violence targeted against individuals who are homeless.
In the 112th Session of Congress H.R. 3528 was introduced by U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, seeking to add “homeless status” to the federal hate crimes statistics statute. H.R. 3528 is identical to two bills introduced in the previous session of Congress:
H.R. 3419 also introduced by Representative Johnson and S. 1765 introduced by Senator Benjamin L. Cardin.
2. States with hate crime statutes should include “homeless status” within their current hate crimes framework.
3. The U.S. Department of Justice should issue a public statement acknowledging that hate crimes and/or violence against people experiencing homelessness is a serious national problem.
4. The U.S. Department of Justice should issue guidelines for law enforcement agencies on how to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated crimes against people experiencing homelessness.
5. Law enforcement agencies should provide awareness training for trainees and officers about the causes and solutions to homelessness and how to deal effectively and respectfully with people experiencing homelessness in their communities.
6. Advocates and homeless service providers should provide opportunities for people who have experienced homelessness and survived bias-motivated violence to tell their stories.
The Faces of Homelessness Speakers’ Bureaus (made up of homeless and formerly homeless people), which visit both public and private schools in communities for the purposes of information and education, would be one method of providing opportunities for survivors to share their stories.
7. Federal, state, and local governments should assure adequate affordable housing and services to bring an end to homelessness in our communities, and thus create safe alternatives to living in homeless situations.
This petition closed over 3 years ago
In the past twelve years (1999-2010), the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) has documented one thousand, one hundred eighty-four acts of violence against homeless individuals by...
In the past twelve years (1999-2010), the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) has documented one thousand, one hundred eighty-four acts of violence against homeless individuals by housed perpetrators. These crimes are believed to be motivated by the perpetrators' bias against homeless individuals or their ability to target homeless people with relative ease. The documented violence includes everything from murder to beatings, rapes, and setting people on fire. Hate Crimes against the Homeless: Violence Hidden in Plain View is the twelfth annual report documenting violence against homeless persons.The violence continues, and with twenty-four known deaths, 2010 ranks in the top-five deadliest years for attacks on homeless people in a decade, and with one hundred thirteen attacks, ranks as the fourth most violent year since NCH began tracking the violence in 1999. NCH has found startling data in the number and severity of attacks. However, the reports also acknowledge that
since the homeless community is treated so poorly in our society, many more attacks go unreported. Hate crimes against the homeless community is a growing wave in need of public attention.
• 1,184 reported acts of bias motivated violence have been committed against homeless individuals between 1999-2010.
• 312 homeless individuals lost their lives as a result of the attacks
• Reported violence has occurred in 47 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, DC
Our data also suggests that the perpetrators of these attacks tend to be young men and teenage boys. In the twelve year history of our hate crime reports, the vast majority of the attacks against homeless people have been committed by youth as young as nine years old. In 2010:
• 72 percent of the attacks were committed by people under thirty years of age
• 88 percent of perpetrators were men
• More than one in five attacks ended in death
Hate Crimes against the Homeless: Violence Hidden in Plain View documents the known cases
of violence against homeless individuals by housed individuals in 2010. The report includes descriptions of the cases, current and pending legislation that would help protect homeless people, and recommendations for advocates to help prevent violence against homeless individuals.
A hate crime is defined by the U.S. Department of Justice's Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as a bias crime and is a "criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender's bias"1. Although the FBI does not
currently recognize homeless individuals as a protected status, the National Coalition for the Homeless, during the past twelve years, recorded one thousand, one hundred eighty-four incidents of crimes committed against homeless individuals due to the housed offender's bias of the victim's housing status. In 2010 alone, twenty-four homeless men and women lost their lives to such violence.These crimes of hate are committed against a community of vulnerable individuals in our country who are at risk because they live outside or in public spaces. Many of our communities do not have adequate, affordable housing or shelter space to meet the need. According to the
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, on any given night, over 649, 917 people are homeless, and forty percent of the homeless population is unsheltered. 2) Over the past twelve years (1999-2010), hundreds of homeless people have been attacked and
killed. While this report provides alarming numbers, many attacks go undocumented. Homeless people are treated so poorly by society that their attacks are often forgotten or unreported. In 2010 alone, one hundred thirteen incidents resulted in twenty-four deaths. Since 1999, The National Coalition for the Homeless has recorded one thousand, one hundred eighty-four acts of violence that have resulted in three hundred twelve deaths.