Illinois is getting tougher on those convicted of hate crimes. In the wake of Charlottesville, the legislature passed resolutions taking a stand against hate. But resolutions are not legally binding.
However, the governor has signed into law changes in penalties for convicted offenders. Sentences for hate crimes will be served consecutively rather than concurrently, meaning the potential for more time behind bars. There’s a requirement of at least 200 hours of community service, as well as required educational classes. State Representative Sara Feigenholtz, a Democrat from Chicago, says it goes beyond punishment: “Making (offenders) have a better understanding hopefully will result in a change in their human behavior.”
The law was an initiative of the state’s bi-partisan Holocaust and Genocide Commission and was drafted before the events in Charlottesville. It passed both chambers unanimously. Feigenholtz says it sends a strong message to those considering acting out their hatred: “Illinois is a very serious state when it comes to addressing hate crimes. And if you commit a hate crime, you are going to pay dearly and you are going to learn why you shouldn’t be doing it.”