Are hate-crime laws necessary?

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Former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi was sentenced to 30 days in prison in connection to the suicide death of his roommate, Tyler Clementi. (AP file photo/Mel Evans)

Hour 1

Former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi was sentenced yesterday to 30 days in prison for committing a bias crime in connection with the suicide death of his roommate Tyler Clementi.  Bias intimidation laws, also known as hate-crime laws, enhance penalties for crimes committed against protected classes of people and are on the books in most states.  At the federal level, a body of civil rights statutes makes it illegal to target victims because of their race, religion or sexual orientation. While the legality of the prosecution of hate crimes is settled law according to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Tyler Clementi case has reignited the debate over their fairness, effectiveness and necessity.  Accusations of bias intimidation have also been raised against George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.  Joining us  for response to the sentencing of Dharum Ravi, as well as a conversation about roots, reasoning and need for hate crime legislation, are HEIDI HURD, professor of law at the University of Illinois; and MICHAEL LIEBERMAN, Washington counsel for the Anti-Defamation League.

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[audio: 052212_100630.mp3]

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