The Arc Pennsylvania is advocating for passage of SB 96/HB 505, which extends hate crime protections to people with disabilities. Current law only protects individuals who are victims of crimes based on race, color, religion, or national origin. In a press conference, Maureen Cronin, Executive Director of The Arc Pennsylvania, discussed a case in which a man with cerebral palsy was mocked for his disability and then punched. The local prosecutor stated that he could not prosecute the case as a hate crime because the statute would not allow it.
As a result of advocacy by The Arc California, a legislative committee ordered an audit of the state’s enforcement of hate crimes. The audit will consist of a survey of more than 240 local and state law enforcement agencies, and a more detailed review of four local agencies (a city police department, a county sheriff’s office, a university police department, and a jail).
The Arc California and six other disability and aging organizations wrote a letter to Attorney General Xavier Becerra requesting that three items dealing with abuse of adults who are elderly or have disabilities be included in the 2018-2019 budget. The items were:
- Revival of the California Department of Justice’s “Face It, It’s a Crime” advertisement campaign that encouraged reporting of abuse of adults who are elderly or have disabilities. Reporting dropped significantly when the program stopped.
- Revision of the Department’s literature to note that crimes motivated by bias against disabilities are hate crimes.
- Revision of the Department’s literature to clarify that the term “dependent adult” includesmany adults with disabilities who live independently.
The Colorado General Assembly has adjourned with many victories for The Arc Colorado including:
- HB 1343, which creates a conflict free case management system, meaning that case management agencies cannot also be service providers, unless the only willing provider of case management in a region is also the only willing service provider;
- HB 1276, which bans prone, mechanical, or chemical restraint in public schools except in cases where a student displays a deadly weapon, it is performed by a trained police officer who has made a law enforcement referral, or it occurs at a school under the jurisdiction of the Division of Youth Corrections;
- HB 1087, which creates a pilot office of public guardianship for incapacitated adults without family or friends able to serve as guardian or enough money to pay a private guardian;
- HB 1046, which eliminates derogatory terms such as “mental retardation” and “mental deficiency” from state law and replaces them with “persons with an intellectual and developmental disability” and “persons with a mental illness”; and
- HB 1188, which makes harassment based on disability or sexual orientation a class 1 misdemeanor, bringing it to the same level as harassment based on race, color, religion, ancestry, or national origin.