Today, Senator Reid announced that the Senate will vote Thursday on the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which seeks to strengthen the ability of federal and local law enforcement officials to prosecute hate crimes. This measure, an important part of a broad civil rights agenda, strengthens federal civil rights laws and provides grants to state and local law enforcement agencies to combat hate crimes.
Democrats Have Made the Fighting of Hate Crimes a Priority. As Senator Edward Kennedy argued, “Crimes motivated by hate because of the victim’s race, religion, ethnic background, sexual orientation, disability, or gender are not confined to the geographical boundaries of our great nation. The current conflicts in the Middle East and Northern Ireland, the ethnic cleansing campaigns in Bosnia and Rwanda, or the Holocaust itself demonstrate that violence motivated by hate is a world-wide danger, and we have a special responsibility to combat it here at home” [Statement by Senator Edward Kennedy, 9/18/07]
The Hate Crimes Prevention Act Strengthens the Ability of Law Enforcement to Combat Hate Crimes. The measure strengthens the ability of federal, state, and local governments to investigate and prosecute hate crimes based on race, ethnic background, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and gender identity. It seeks to strengthen state and local efforts by enabling the Justice Department to assist them in the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes. The bill will also provide grants to help state and local governments meet the extraordinary expenses involved in hate crime cases. [Amdt 3035 to HR 1585]
The Hate Crimes Prevention Act Provides Assistance to Local Law Enforcement Agencies in Combating Hate Crimes Committed By Juveniles. In addition to authorizing Justice Department grants of up to $100,000 to state, local, and Indian law enforcement agencies that have incurred extraordinary expenses in investigating and prosecuting hate crimes, the measure also authorizes the Office of Justice Programs to award grants to state and local programs designed to combat hate crimes committed by juveniles. [Amdt 3035 to HR 1585]
Numerous Law Enforcement and Civil Rights Organizations Have Given their Support For The Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Supporters of the measure include leading civil liberties and civil rights organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, Human Rights Campaign and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. In addition, law enforcement supporters include: the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National District Attorneys Association, the States Attorneys General and the National Sheriffs’ Association.