Last year, The New York Times noted a sharp increase in violent crimes committed against the homeless -- up 65 percent from '05 to '07, according to statistics kept by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. But at the moment, attacks on the homeless aren't considered hate crimes and aren't counted as such by the FBI when it compiles those particular stats. At the moment, the Hate Crimes Statistics Act only demands the Justice Department gather from local law enforcement agencies data concerning crimes that "manifest prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity," then include those numbers in the agency's annual uniform crime statistics report.
But Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson wants to change all that: Yesterday, she introduced a bill that calls for including crimes against the homeless in the FBI's uniform hate crimes statistics; not surprisingly, the bill is called the Hate Crimes Against the Homeless Statistics Act of 2009, and the entirety of the proposed legislation can be found after the jump. Says Johnson, "In the past 10 years, there have been 880 reported cases of violence against people who are homeless, including 244 that have resulted in death. Homeless advocacy organizations have tracked these statistics in the absence of uniform law enforcement reporting. It is clear that homeless people are targeted simply because they are homeless, and it is time for the federal government to start tracking the number of violent attacks more closely."
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