In northern Ohio last year, 16 members of an Amish community were indicted for conspiracy to violate the federal Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act and the federal witness tampering law. (See prior posting.) The defendants, members of a break-away Amish group, are charged with assaulting other Amish and forcibly cutting their hair and beards. AP reported yesterday that the defendants have rejected the government's offer of a plea bargain that would have given many of them sentences of 2 to 3 years. If convicted, they face sentences of 20 years or more in prison. Defendants claim the attacks involved issues of internal church discipline and not anti-Amish bias.