The following is a statement from the Equip for Equality addressing the hate crime against the man with a disability that happened last week. I am reprinting the statement in full and please write to your Illinois Representative and state Senator to get the Governor to act.
As the federally-mandated Protection and Advocacy system for people with disabilities in Illinois, Equip for Equality is deeply troubled by the recent news of a savage attack upon a young man with disabilities in Chicago. Unfortunately, this incident highlights a tragic, but well-documented fact: People with disabilities are far more likely to be the victims of crime and violence than are people without disabilities. Moreover, research indicates that violent crimes, such as sexual abuse, are not only more prevalent among people with disabilities, but an alarmingly low number of these cases are investigated and prosecuted. See Morano, Sexual Abuse of the Mentally Retarded Patient, 130; Psychiatric News, Aaron Levin, People with Mental Illness More Often Crime Victims, http://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/pn.40.17.00400016 . Currently, local law enforcement agencies report to the Illinois State Police on the number of hate crime incidents reported. The data collected does not include the number of hate crimes actually prosecuted.
This horrific attack thus reinforces the need to effectively address hate-related violence against people with disabilities. The State of Illinois has established the Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes for the express purpose of identifying and eradicating discrimination and hate-based violence. The Commission is statutorily required to make recommendations and annually report to the Governor and the General Assembly on the changes necessary to eliminate discrimination and hate-based violence. However, there are no members appointed to the Commission and no reports have been produced for well over a decade. Equip for Equality therefore strongly urges:
- The Governor to immediately and fully reconstitute the Commission by appointing a chair and the required number of members and take all actions necessary to ensure that the Commission’s responsibilities are fully carried out.
- The Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes Act to be amended to make clear that violence based on physical or mental disability falls within the purview and charge of the Commission.
- Law enforcement agencies to be required to report on the number of hate crimes against people with disabilities that are prosecuted as compared to the number of hate crimes against individuals without disabilities that are prosecuted.
- Training to be provided to law enforcement agencies beyond the Illinois State Police on how to identify, respond to and report hate crimes against people with disabilities
- Training to be provided to prosecutors on the proper investigation and prosecution of hate crimes against people with disabilities.