The Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service at Suffolk Law School the Anti-Defamation League of New England will host a policy discussion exploring whether state and federal hate crime laws should cover attacks on the homeless.

With violent crime against the homeless on the rise in the United States and several bills pending in Congress, a panel of advocates, law enforcement experts, and academics will discuss whether state and federal laws should be amended to include homelessness as a hate crime category.

The latest report from the National Coalition for the Homeless finds violent attacks against the homeless nearly doubled in 2009 from the year before. Such attacks on homeless Americans outnumber all categories of hate crimes combined.

The “Violence Against the Homeless: A Hate Crime?” panel discussion will take place from 12:00-1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011, at Suffolk University Law School, 120 Tremont St. in Boston.

The event is free and open to the public.

Panelists include:

•Robert Hass, Cambridge Police Commissioner
•Jack McDevitt, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, College of Criminal Justice, Northeastern School of Criminology and Criminal Justice
•Neil Donovan, Executive Director, National Coalition for the Homeless
•Steve Wessler, Executive Director, Center for Preventing Hate.
WBUR Radio news anchor Deborah Becker will serve as moderator.