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November 2, 2018 9:16 am

In Aftermath of Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting, States Review Hate-Crime Laws

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A man prays at a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Oct. 31, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Cathal McNaughton.

JNS.org – The suspect behind the shooting deaths of 11 Jewish worshippers on Saturday morning at the Tree of Life*Or’L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh was charged on Wednesday in a 44-count indictment that accuses the 46-year-old of federal hate crimes.

A total of 45 states also have such measures, enabling tougher punishments against perpetrators.

Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Wyoming do not have hate-crime laws (Georgia’s hate-crime statute was struck down by the state’s Supreme Court in 2004).

In Indiana, Gov. Mitch Holcomb has asked lawmakers to pass a hate-crime law. A bill to do that died earlier this year after Republicans refused to vote on it in committee. The measure would have allowed judges to give harsher sentences for crimes motivated by religion, race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and other factors.

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In August, an Indiana synagogue was spray-painted with a large Nazi flag and Nazi iron crosses.

Since the shooting, calls have come nationwide for toughening hate-crime statutes.

In Kentucky, for example, two state lawmakers proposed legislation on Wednesday that would add homicide to the state’s existing hate-crime law.

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