Illinois Hate Crime Convicts To Receive ‘Diversity Training’


Anders Hagstrom Justice Reporter
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An Illinois bill that awaits Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s signature would require convicted hate crime offenders to take “diversity training courses” pertaining to the specific group that they victimized.

The bill’s main author, Sadia Covert, is a member of the Islamic Center of Naperville and began her crusade for hate crime reform in 2014, the Illinois Daily Herald reported Monday. In addition to diversity courses, the law would remove the state’s $1,000 cap on restitution payments and allow victims to pursue other monetary damages in civil court. Rauner is expected to approve the bill this week.

“We cannot stay silent on hate,” Rauner said in a March statement. “We cannot stay silent when families in our community are in danger.”

The bill is the first in a three-step plan that Covert hopes, if implemented fully, will curb hate crime in Illinois, the Herald reported. Covert decried the absence of diversity training and education in Illinois’ current hate crime penalties, arguing that prison time alone is unhelpful.

“When people have more understanding, they’re less likely to hate or commit a crime,” Covert said.

Democratic State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, who sponsored the bill, told reporters that the educational component is “very needed.”

“Sometimes people engage in hateful outbreaks against other minorities just because they might not understand or have a working knowledge of individuals’ different genders, different religions, different mannerisms — just the differences between us,” Kifowit said.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan called a summit in February to address the state’s apparent spike in hate crimes, citing the numerous bomb threats against Jewish centers across the country. Many of these threats were later debunked, however, as one former leftist reporter for The Intercept pled guilty to making eight such bomb threats in an attempt to get back at his Jewish ex-girlfriend.

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