Lawmakers and homeless advocates are pushing for legislation that would make attacks against the homeless, a hate crime. The recommendation for the bill comes on the heels of a recent study from the National Coalition for the Homeless. It says there's an uptick in violence against the homeless -- including the killing of 244 people over the last decade. One of the contributors to the report, Criminologist Brian Levin, says if passed, the legislation could deter those who target homeless people.
LEVIN: Many of these offenders are young males with no criminal record. So if they believe that there is an actual cost and consequence to their conduct, many of them will think twice.
The bill is sponsored by Queens Assemblyman Rory Lancman and is expected to be introduced into the State Assembly this fall.
Maryland is the first state to expand its hate crime law - adding stiffer penalties for attacking the homeless. A handful of other states are considering similar legislation.