Urging Prompt Passage of Hate Crimes Legislation

Wednesday, September 13, 2000

Today, at the White House, President Clinton called on the House of Representatives to follow the Senate's lead in passing federal hate crimes legislation. The President announced the release of a study that demonstrates that hate crimes are greatly under-reported, and issued a directive to the Department of Justice to work with state and local law enforcement on strategies to improve hate crimes reporting. The President was joined by Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder; Cherialynn Byrdsong, whose husband Ricky was gunned down in a hate-motivated shooting spree; and Laramie Police Officer David O'Malley, who helped to investigate the Matthew Shepard case.

URGING PASSAGE OF EXPANDED FEDERAL HATE CRIMES LAW. The President urged the House of Representatives to vote in favor of the hate crimes legislation which the Senate passed in June. This legislation would enhance the federal government's ability to prosecute violent crimes motivated by race, color, religion, or national origin, and would authorize federal prosecution of crimes motivated by sexual orientation, gender, or disability. Recognizing that state and local law enforcement still have primary responsibility for investigating and prosecuting hate crimes, this legislation would provide them with much-needed assistance, such as grants and help with investigations and prosecutions to ensure that perpetrators of hate crimes are brought to justice.

ANNOUNCING A STUDY ON HATE CRIMES REPORTING. Today, the President announced a new report, "Improving the Quality and Accuracy of Bias Crime Statistics Nationally: An Assessment of the First Ten Years of Bias Crime Data Collection," which was funded by the Department of Justice. The report concludes that hate crimes are under-reported for several reasons, including victims' failure to report them to the police, lack of training, and problems with forwarding hate-crime data to the FBI. Some of the report's findings include:

ISSUING A DIRECTIVE TO IMPROVE HATE CRIMES REPORTING. In response to the report, President Clinton directed the Department of Justice to work with state and local law enforcement agencies and relevant organizations to develop a plan within 120 days to improve hate crimes reporting. The Department of Justice is meeting with representatives of state and local law enforcement organizations later this month, and will consider strategies to improve hate crimes reporting, including the following:

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