Sandy Springs has become one of the first cities in Georgia to adopt a hate crimes ordinance, calling for enhanced penalties in cases where people were victimized because of their race, religion, sexual orientation or other factors. AJC FILE

Sandy Springs adopts hate crime ordinance

Sandy Springs has adopted a hate crime ordinance, becoming one of the first cities in Georgia to call on the courts to impose more severe penalties where people were victimized because of their race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation or other factors.

The City Council on Tuesday approved an ordinance proposed by Council Member Andy Bauman. The measure does not criminalize merely thinking or hating without an underlying crime, the council member said in a memo to the council. It calls for enhanced penalties for specific, municipal crimes.

According to the ordinance, a judge handing down a sentence in a criminal conviction involving a hate crime “shall impose an increased sentence of imprisonment and/or fine up to and including the maximums permitted” under municipal and applicable state law.

The measure also requires the Sandy Springs Police Department to track and report hate crimes through GBI and FBI reporting systems.

Georgia is one of only four states without an official hate crime law, the Associated Press reported in June.

The state Supreme Court overturned a prior law in 2004, and bills addressing hate crimes failed to pass out of the Legislature the last two sessions.

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