BILL TO BE CONSIDERED BY THE FULL HOUSE AS SOON AS TUESDAY, MAY 1, 2007
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” has been introduced in the US House by Congressman John Conyers (MI) (H.R. 1592) and in the Senate by Senator Edward Kennedy (MA) (S. 1105). This bill passed the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, April 25, 2007, and is expected to come to the House floor as soon as Tuesday, May 1st.
This legislation 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.
This legislation has passed the US Senate and the US House as amendments to other bills in the past few years; we now need a coordinated effort to see it reach the President’s desk for his signature.
We need every NAACP member sand friend to contact their Representative and urge him or her to support passage of H.R. 1592, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act and to oppose all weakening amendments and motions!