BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Cracking down on college hazing. Victims of this barbaric rite of passage want Maryland to impose tougher penalties on the people and organizations that do it.

WJZ speaks to students who have been beaten–and worse–by some members of the groups they wanted to join.

Christie Ileto has details on the proposal now being considered in Annapolis.

If a student gets busted for hazing in Maryland, the most they get is a $500 fine and the possibility of jail time–penalties some lawmakers say are a slap on the wrist.

Johnny Powell thought he was joining a brotherhood. Instead: “I was subjected to beatings with canes and paddles,” he said.

Then a junior pledging Kappa Alpha Psi at Coppin State University, Powell and other students are now sharing their hazing incidents to state lawmakers.

“It’s easy to say, ‘Why’d you continue to do this?’ But they don’t understand the mental brainwashing they put you through, the threats that they give to you,” said Powell.

Hazing is just a misdemeanor in Maryland with a $500 fine. Sen. Jamie Raskin is trying to increase that to $5,000.

“We’ve got to crack down on it and get the message out that it’s a crime and that we will prosecute you, we will fine you, and in serious cases, you could go to jail for it,” Sen. Raskin said.

In just the last year, high profile hazing incidents have surfaced at Coppin State, Bowie State and Towson University.

“The events that lasted less than two hours had me not able to walk out of the house,” said Brad Nataro.

In a revealing WJZ investigation, Towson student Brad Nataro doesn’t remember much about initiation–only the aftermath.

“The thing that comes to me right after that memory is waking up in my bedside with my mother with a couple of policemen trying to figure out what happened,” he said.

Ileto: “Do you think if this bill had been a law at the time you pledged, this would have happened to you?”

Powell: “There’s a possibility it could have happened to me, but I think there would be a lot more deterrents.”

Tougher penalties to stop the outbreak of hazings across our state.

Last year, this same bill failed in Annapolis. But with all the cases that have happened in the last year, Sen. Raskin is cautiously optimistic this year will be better.

Most major Greek letter organizations have their own anti-hazing policies.

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