State hate crimes laws need overhaul, Healey says

Boston Statehouse
Maura Healey_155712

FILE – In this Dec. 15, 2014 file photo, Massachusetts Attorney General-elect Maura Healey speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Boston. Healey will be sworn in Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, becoming the state’s 55th attorney general. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

BOSTON (SHNS) – Legislation reforming the state’s hate crimes laws is among a nine-bill legislative agenda offered this week by Attorney General Maura Healey.

The hate crimes reform bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Adam Hinds (D-Pittsfield) and Rep. Tram Nguyen (D-Andover), would rework what Healey’s office called two “seldom-used statutes to better reflect their purpose — to charge individuals who target a person based on their membership in a protected class.”

Bias-related incidents and hate crimes are on the rise in Massachusetts and nationwide, according to Healey.

The bill would strengthen the ability of law enforcement and prosecutors to protect victims by consolidating two laws, providing clear definitions, and structuring separate crimes and accompanying penalties based on the seriousness of the underlying offenses, rather than grouping all alleged offenders together.

Broadly speaking, Healey’s office said her agenda is focused on “promoting equity and social justice and protecting vulnerable communities,” including proposals to address abuse and neglect of elderly and disabled patients and to protect victims of crime, consumers, workers, and ratepayers.

Healey’s bill to adjust the law prohibiting firearm silencers would amend the definition of “silencer” to mirror the definition in federal law, which she said would strengthen enforcement. She is also backing legislation that she says will modernize protections for consumers who buy or lease a used car.

The attorney general and potential 2022 candidate for governor also refiled bills that her office says would combat human trafficking by regulating alternative healing therapies, bar competitive electric suppliers from signing up new individual residential customers, improve her office’s ability to address violations of wage and hour laws, codify the confidentiality of victim compensation applications, and protect pollinators from harmful insecticides. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

State Police Overtime Scandal

More State Police Overtime Investigation

Trending Stories

Donate Today