Tallahassee, Florida (AP) --
Prejudice-motivated attacks against homeless people are becoming hate crimes in Florida, a state that has led the nation in that statistic four of the last five years.
The new law goes into effect on October 1.
Florida is the largest of five states and the District of
Columbia that have increased penalties for attacks against the
homeless, but the National Coalition for the Homeless says it's
unsure such laws will do any good.
The coalition first wants the federal government to begin
collecting data to help determine what will work.
A U.S. Senate Judiciary subcommittee is scheduled to hear
testimony on that issue Wednesday, September 29.
Other advocates, though, say publicity surrounding hate crime
laws can be a deterrent itself.