The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Hate Crime Legislation

111th Congress (2009-2010)

The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 (LLEHCPA) was introduced in the 111th Congress by Representatives John Conyers, D. Mich., and Mark Kirk, R. Ill., in the House.

110th Congress (2007-2008)

In 2007, Congress came closer than ever in addressing a critical gap in current federal hate crimes law and expanded existing hate crimes coverage to include violence based on sexual orientation, gender, and disability. The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 (H.R. 1592) was introduced in the House on March 20, 2007, and in the Senate on April 12, 2007.

109th Congress (2005-2006)

The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2005, passed September 14 as an amendment to H.R. 3132, the Children's Safety Act of 2005, would have expanded the definition of hate crimes to include offenses involving actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

108th Congress (2003-2004)

On June 15, 2004, the Senate approved the Local Law Enforcement Act (LLEEA) as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005 (S. 2400). The House voted to urge its members working to reconcile differing versions of that legislation to retain the hate crime provisions. However, hate crime provisions were stripped from the final version of the legislation.

107th Congress (2001-2002)

The Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act (LLEEA) (S.625) was introduced on March 27, 2001. The measure would have removed existing obstacles to federal hate crime prosecutions and extended federal hate crime law that currently covers race, religion and national origin to cover hate crimes based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender or disability.

The Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996

The Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996 was enacted in response to a disturbing rash of arson directed at houses of worship, with African American churches disproportionately victimized. According to Justice Department officials, DOJ opened 658 investigations of suspicious fires, bombings, and attempted bombings from January 1, 1995, to August 18, 1998. Of the 658 attacks directed against houses of worship, 220 were predominantly African-American institutions.

The Church Arson Prevention Act was initially sponsored by Sens. Lauch Faircloth (R-NC) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and by Reps. Henry Hyde (R-IL) and John Conyers (D-MI). In a welcome example of bipartisanship, both the House and the Senate unanimously approved the legislation, which broadened existing Federal criminal jurisdiction and facilitated criminal prosecutions for attacks against houses of worship, increased penalties for these crimes, established a loan guarantee recovery fund for rebuilding, and authorized additional law enforcement personnel "investigate, prevent, and respond" to these incidents. Recognizing that data collection efforts complement criminal prosecutions of hate crime offenders, Congress also included a continuing mandate for the HCSA.

Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act of 1994

Originally introduced by Rep. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) as freestanding legislation, the Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act was enacted into law as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. Pursuant to the Act, the United States Sentencing Commission established a sentencing enhancement of "not less than 3 offense levels for [federal] offenses that the finder of fact at trial determines beyond a reasonable doubt are hate crimes." The enhancement defines a hate crime as "a crime in which the defendant intentionally selects a victim, or in the case of a property crime, the property that is the object of the crime, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person." In other words, sentences imposed on defendants convicted of federal crimes may be substantially increased if the crime is found to be motivated by bias. This measure--which covers only federal crimes--applies, for example, to bias-motivated attacks and vandalism that occur in national parks and on other Federal property. This enhancement took effect on November 1, 1995.

Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990 (HCSA)

Enacted in 1990, the Hate Crime Statistics Act (HCSA) requires the Justice Department to collect data on crimes which "manifest prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity" from law enforcement agencies across the country and to publish an annual summary of the findings. In 1994, Congress expanded coverage of the HCSA to require FBI reporting on crimes motivated by bias against persons with disabilities. By reviewing statistics and charting the geographic distribution of these crimes, police officials may be able to recognize patterns and anticipate an increase in racial tensions in a given jurisdiction. However, the accuracy of the Hate Crime Statistic Report is hampered by the fact that law enforcement agencies are not required to participate.

State Legislation

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