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New legislation would increase list of hate crime-eligible charges in New York

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(NEW YORK) — New legislation unveiled Monday would increase the list of hate crime-eligible charges in New York state from 66 to 97.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who proposed the Hate Crimes Modernization Act along with several elected officials and community leaders, said it would enhance criminal charges and certain sentences.

A record high of 650 hate crimes were reported in New York City last year, and the new measure comes amid a recent surge in hate crimes linked to the ongoing war in the Middle East.

As hate crimes rise, the nature of the incidents has increasingly varied, which Bragg said means the penal code creates loopholes that prevent prosecutors from appropriately charging and ensuring accountability for people who commit offenses motivated by bias and prejudice.

The new legislation would update hate crimes law in New York that currently exclude charges like gang assault, making graffiti, sex trafficking, labor trafficking, false reporting, criminal possession of a weapon and certain sex crimes.

“Every time a hate crime goes unrecognized, its victims are denied justice, and hate is further normalized and allowed to spread,” New York Assemblymember Grace Lee said in a statement. “We understand that there is no single solution to eliminating hate; this is a complex issue that requires a diversified and holistic approach. This bill is one necessary step to help address hate and hold those who commit hate crimes accountable.”

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