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October 15, 2014 0

The Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act: Five Years Later

The Matthew Shep­ard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Pre­ven­tion Act (HCPA), enacted into law on Octo­ber 28, 2009, is the most impor­tant, com­pre­hen­sive, and inclu­sive fed­eral hate crime enforce­ment law passed in the past 40 years.Matthew_Shepard_and_James_Byrd,_Jr._Hate_Crimes_Prevention_Act

The HCPA encour­ages part­ner­ships between state and fed­eral law enforce­ment offi­cials to more effec­tively address hate vio­lence, and pro­vides expanded author­ity for fed­eral hate crime inves­ti­ga­tions and pros­e­cu­tions when local author­i­ties are unwill­ing or unable to act.  Impor­tantly, the HCPA adds sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, gen­der, gen­der iden­tity and dis­abil­ity to the groups which pre­vi­ously had fed­eral pro­tec­tion against hate crimes – race, color, reli­gion and national origin.

For more than a dozen years, the Anti-Defamation League led a broad coali­tion of civil rights, reli­gious, edu­ca­tional, pro­fes­sional, law enforce­ment, and civic orga­ni­za­tions advo­cat­ing for the HCPA. The leg­is­la­tion was stalled by fierce oppo­si­tion from some con­ser­v­a­tive orga­ni­za­tions — and, for eight years, by Pres­i­dent George W. Bush — in large part because it pro­vided new author­ity for the FBI and the Jus­tice Depart­ment to inves­ti­gate and pros­e­cute cases in which mem­bers of LGBT com­mu­ni­ties were tar­geted for vio­lence.  Ener­getic sup­port by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and Attor­ney Gen­eral Eric H. Holder, Jr.  was essen­tial to achiev­ing final pas­sage of the measure.

The HCPA has proven to be a valu­able tool for fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors.  The Depart­ment of Jus­tice has brought more than two dozen cases over the past five years – and has suc­cess­fully defended the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of the Act against sev­eral con­sti­tu­tional chal­lenges.

Enact­ment of the HCPA also sparked a wel­come round of police train­ing and out­reach – and the devel­op­ment of a num­ber of sig­nif­i­cant new hate crime train­ing and pre­ven­tion resources, includ­ing an updated Hate Crime Model Pol­icy pre­pared by the Inter­na­tional Asso­ci­a­tion of Chiefs of Police.

Yet, much work remains to be done.  Hate crimes remain a seri­ous national prob­lem. In 2012 (accord­ing to the most recent data avail­able) the FBI doc­u­mented more than 6,500 hate crimes – almost one every hour of every day. The most fre­quent were moti­vated by race, fol­lowed by reli­gion and sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.  Of the crime moti­vated by reli­gion, more than 60 per­cent tar­geted Jews or Jew­ish institutions.

Unfor­tu­nately, more than 90 cities with pop­u­la­tions over 100,000 either did not par­tic­i­pate in the FBI 2012 data col­lec­tion pro­gram or affir­ma­tively reported zero (0) hate crimes. That is unac­cept­able. As FBI Direc­tor James B. Comey said in remarks to the 2014 ADL Lead­er­ship Sum­mit, “We must con­tinue to impress upon our state and local coun­ter­parts in every juris­dic­tion the need to track and report hate crime. It is not some­thing we can ignore or sweep under the rug.”

The fifth anniver­sary of the HCPA pro­vides an impor­tant teach­able moment.  It is a fit­ting occa­sion for advo­cates, the Obama Admin­is­tra­tion, and Con­gress to pro­mote aware­ness of the HCPA, to report on the progress our nation has made in pre­vent­ing hate vio­lence, and to reded­i­cate our­selves to effec­tively respond­ing to bias crimes when they occur.

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October 28, 2013 1

Matthew Shepard And James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act Four Years Later: Demonstrating Its Value

This week marks the fourth anniver­sary of the sign­ing of the Matthew Shep­ard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Pre­ven­tion Act (HCPA).  The HCPA is the most impor­tant, com­pre­hen­sive, and inclu­sive hate crime enforce­ment law enacted in the past 40 years. In addi­tion, pas­sage of the act has sparked a wel­come round of police train­ing and out­reach – and the devel­op­ment of a num­ber of sig­nif­i­cant new hate crime train­ing and pre­ven­tion resources. hate-crimes-prevention-act-HCPA

It is appro­pri­ate to pause to reflect on the extra­or­di­nar­ily broad coali­tion ADL was priv­i­leged to lead in sup­port the HCPA – includ­ing over 250 civil rights, edu­ca­tion, reli­gious, civic, and pro­fes­sional orga­ni­za­tions and, cru­cially, vir­tu­ally every major law enforce­ment orga­ni­za­tion in the coun­try. Orig­i­nally drafted in 1996, progress on the bill was stalled, Con­gress after Con­gress, because of per­sis­tent, adamant – and erro­neous – con­cerns about the impact of the bill’s cov­er­age of hate crimes directed at indi­vid­u­als because of their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion. In the end, even after 13 long years of advo­cacy, with the strong sup­port of Pres­i­dent Obama and Attor­ney Gen­eral Holder, the mea­sure still had to be attached to “must-pass” leg­is­la­tion – the Depart­ment of Defense FY 2010 Autho­riza­tion bill – in order to be enacted into law.

But now, four years later, advo­cates can­not doubt that the titanic efforts to enact the HCPA by Sen­ate and House cham­pi­ons and the hate crime coali­tion were worth­while. Here are high­lights of some of the impor­tant advances since the enact­ment of the HCPA, Pub­lic Law 111–84.

­Train­ing

  • Lawyers from the Depart­ment of Jus­tice (DoJ) Civil Rights Divi­sion, FBI agents, and pro­fes­sion­als from DoJ’s Com­mu­nity Rela­tions Ser­vice have trained thou­sands of state and local law enforce­ment offi­cials from more than a dozen states on the HCPA’s new tools and federal-state part­ner­ship opportunities.  

Enforce­ment

  • DoJ has inves­ti­gated dozens of cases and has brought indict­ments in about 20 cases, includ­ing sev­eral cases in states that lack their own hate crime laws.    
  • Under the expanded author­ity of the HCPA, Jus­tice Depart­ment lawyers have pro­vided foren­sic and other inves­tiga­tive assis­tance to state and local law enforce­ment offi­cials pros­e­cut­ing cases under their state laws. 
  • In coor­di­na­tion with sev­eral lead US Attor­neys, DoJ has vig­or­ously defended the HCPA in both facial and as applied con­sti­tu­tional challenges. 

Hate Crime Data Collection

Resources

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