Propelled by a nationwide surge in hate crimes, lawmakers in several states are working to deter potential offenders with harsher punishments, NBC News reported.
Bills in New York would, among other things, make cemetery desecration a felony, and a Connecticut bill promises to be the most comprehensive hate crime legislation to date by introducing a sweeping collection of new statutes.
In Alabama, lawmakers have introduced legislation to classify threats against houses of worship and schools as acts of terrorism.
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In Illinois, a new bill seeks to eliminate loopholes that could prevent a hate-crime designation, the bill's sponsor, state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, a Democrat, told NBC News.
According to the most recently released FBI crime statistics, hate crimes around the nation have been on the rise, increasing by 7 percent from 5,479 incidents in 2014 to 5,850 incidents in 2015. Anti-black hate crimes rose by 7.6 percent from 2014 to 2015 — from 1,621 incidents to 1,745.