Lawmakers push to strengthen Connecticut’s hate crime laws

The temporary JCC location on Research Drive in Woodbridge was evacuated due to a bomb threat, January 18, 2017. (WTNH / Kent Pierce)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– There’s a push up in Hartford to beef up the state’s hate crime laws, which means Connecticut could set an example for the entire nation.

State Democrats are the ones introducing this legislation. It still has to go through the proper channels, but if it’s passed, our state would have the strongest hate crime laws in the country.

In recent weeks and months there have been numerous incidents involving hate crimes aimed specifically at many Jewish community centers across the country. But also here in Connecticut. As you may recall back in January, bomb threats were called in to the JCC’s in Woodbridge and West Hartford causing a great deal of concern.

Related: JCC evacuated in Woodbridge, West Hartford due to bomb threats

Since then there have been other threats that put the community on high alert. In fact, just a few weeks ago both Democrat and Republican lawmakers met with people from the Jewish community who expressed concerns about the recent uptick in threats.

According to officials, other people have been the victims of hate as well, including African-Americans, Hindu-Americans, Muslims and transgender women.

Related: Local lawmakers discuss recent rise in Jewish Community Center threats

The goal now is to ramp up protections and hold offenders accountable. Right now if you’re charged with a “first degree” hate crime in Connecticut, it’s considered a felony punishable by one to 10 years in prison and/ or a fine of $10,000.

But we could see all of that change under the new proposal to strengthen the existing laws. All of this will be discussed by lawmakers later Thursday.

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