Eric Siddall: Prop 57 lightens hate crime penalties


Recent news reports confirm an increase in hate crimes in Los Angeles County, and elected officials, including District Attorney Jackie Lacey, recently participated in a news conference to encourage reporting of hate crimes.

The number of hate crimes reported in the county rose 24 percent in 2015 from the previous year, breaking a seven-year general downward trend, according to a report by the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission.

Yet, despite universal condemnation of hate crimes, Proposition 57 gutted any deterrence value or punishment against these very crimes. This is because the punishment of hate-motivated crimes comes in the form of an enhancement.

Prop 57 now allows the parole board to ignore these enhancements when considering releasing a prisoner. In essence, the person who gets in a bar fight and the person who attacks a victim because of his or her race will both be eligible for parole at the same time.

Lacey acknowledged that hate crimes may become more difficult to punish with the passage of Prop 57.

Gov. Jerry Brown did not join the parade of officials highlighting the increase of hate crimes. This might be because the people his proposition helps are the very people who are committing these crimes.

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