Proos co-sponsors bills to crack down on assaulting people with disabilities

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Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos has co-sponsored bipartisan legislation that would increase penalties for assaulting a person with a developmental disability.

“All Michigan residents deserve to live with respect and dignity,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Unfortunately, we increasingly hear in the news about adults and children with disabilities being assaulted — and even targeted because of their disability.

“People with disabilities are among our most vulnerable citizens, and we owe it to them and our entire society to crack down hard on someone who would attack a child with special needs.”

Senate Bills 1017 and 1018 aim to prevent harm to individuals with disabilities by creating a harsher punishment for those who know of a person’s disability and are guilty of assault or assault and battery on that person.

Under the bills, a first offense for someone convicted of assaulting an individual with a developmental disability and knowing that individual has a disability would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. Subsequent offenses would result in felony charges punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

“It is sickening to me that someone would knowingly assault a person with special needs,” Proos said. “This legislation would not only increase penalties for assault of a person with a disability, but it would also help create a culture of respect.”

The Arc is the largest national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

According to the Arc, researchers have found that people with intellectual disabilities have a 4- to 10-times greater chance of becoming victims of crime than those without disabilities. Children with any type of disability are 3.4 times more likely to be abused compared to children without disabilities.


Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos are available on the senator’s website at