Punishment likely to be stiffer than when handled under U.S. [federal] laws
During the Holy Muslim month of Ramadan, someone fires shots into a Corpus Christi mosque. In the back yard of a Spring residence, attackers yell "white power" as they brutally assault a Hispanic youth. And in a Louisiana school yard, white students hang nooses from a tree after black classmates congregate underneath.
While many civil rights leaders and community groups considered these high-profile episodes hate crimes, only one — the mosque shooting last month — may end up being prosecuted as such. The other two, federal officials said, did not the meet the criteria under U.S. civil rights laws.
To many, the Justice Department pursuing an act as a hate crime has great significance. But the reality is that crimes of intimidation or violence based on bias often garner stiffer sentences when they are prosecuted under state laws. [Link]
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