Bill Moves to The Senate for Consideration; Senators Kennedy (MA) and Smith (OR) have Already Introduced a Companion Bill
On May 3, 2007, the US House of Representatives, by a strong bipartisan margin of 237 yeas to 180 nays, passed H.R. 1592, the “Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act.”
Currently, the federal government is allowed to intervene in the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes only if they occur on federal property or if the victim was participating in one of six very specific activities, such as voting. The “Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act” would expand existing hate crime prevention laws and allow the federal government to assist the local authorities in the investigation and prosecution of crimes motivated by hate, regardless of what the victim was doing at the time the crime occurred. It would also expand the definition of a hate crime to include those motivated by the victim’s disability, gender or sexual orientation and it would provide money to states to develop hate crime prevention programs.
In short, this proposed hate crimes prevention legislation would allow the federal government to work with state and local authorities to punish hate crimes to the fullest extent possible. While the NAACP believes that states should continue to play the primary role in the prosecution of hate crime violence, a federal law is needed to compliment state statutes and assist the states in securing the very complicated and expensive cases through prosecution.