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New York law on hazing update

Sen. Little’s anti-hazing legislation passes in Senate

Posted on: Tuesday, February 12, 2008

ALBANY — A bill introduced by state Sen. Betty Little (R, C, I-Queensbury) that would increase penalties for hazing passed the Senate today.

The legislation, S.1117, would increase the penalty of hazing in the first degree, where hazing causes serious physical injury or death, to a class D felony punishable by up to seven years in prison. The proposal would also create lesser penalties for hazing in which minor or no physical injury occurs.

Hazing in the first degree is currently a class A misdemeanor if the act creates a substantial risk of physical injury to another person during an initiation process.

“Raising awareness to the dangers of hazing is the best approach to keep students safe,” Little said in a prepared statement. “But our laws should also reflect the seriousness of this issue — the potential for injury and loss of life — with stricter, more appropriate penalties.”

Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari is sponsoring a companion bill in the Assembly.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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