Brownback welcomes input on need for hate-crime legislation - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Brownback welcomes input on need for hate-crime legislation

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Kansas does not have hate-crime legislation on its books, and Gov. Sam Brownback said he would welcome public input on the need for such legislation.

"Hate crimes in their orientation sow a sense of fear in the community," Brownback said.

The lack of hate crime legislation has come into focus after a white supremacist is accused of going to two Jewish centers and opening fire in an attempt to kill Jews. Instead, he killed three Christians.

"It's certainly covered federally," Brownback said about hate-crime laws. "We'll look and see what the people say. Right now, I want to provide as much security as we can."

Federal prosecutors are weighing hate-crime charges against Glenn Frazier Cross, Jr., 73, of Aurora, MO.

In the meantime, capital murder and first-degree murder charges have been filed against Cross in Kansas district court. Because Cross is accused of killing a grandfather and a grandson at the same time, he could face the death penalty under Kansas law.

If a crime in Kansas is committed based on religion, race, sex, ethnicity or disability, the state charges the crime whether it's murder or assault.

"The hate crimes aspect comes under the punishment phase and determining what your sentence will be," UMKC Law School professor Allen Rostron said.

While many states have hate-crime legislation, prosecutors often allow federal prosecutors to take the lead when it comes to it.

"People often a make big deal of the fact that it's a federal charge as though that makes it more serious, but not necessarily. You can get life in prison or death penalty on a state charge and it's as serious as you can get," Rostron said.

According to 2012 statistics, 5,700 hate crimes were reported to the FBI. Of those, 81 were in Kansas and 104 in Missouri.

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