A bill that would change the way Utah punishes hate crimes is undergoing major revisions as the bill’s sponsor tries to reach a compromise with another lawmaker before it is debated.
Representative David Litvack’s bill would direct judges and the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole to consider evidence of bias in the selection of a victim. Republican Representative LaVar Christensen said he wants to balance his concerns with Litvack’s intentions.
Neither representative would offer any details of the compromise bill they are now drafting together.
Utah law does not technically have a hate crimes statute, even though it is titled “penalties for hate crimes.” The current law is instead a civil rights statute that requires prosecutors to prove a victim’s civil rights, such as voting or attending school, were interrupted by the commission of the crime.
A longtime opponent of Litvack’s hate crimes bill proposals this is the sixth Christensen thinks the state’s existing law needs only a minor tweak. But prosecutors call it unenforceable.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, March 3, 2006.