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Hate Crimes: State and Federal Responses to Bias-motivated Violence

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Volume: 61 Issue: 5 Dated: August 1999 Pages: 68-80
Elena Grigera
Date Published
5 pages
Hate crimes and bias-related violence are discussed with respect to their nature, extent, legislation, State initiatives, constitutional challenges, Federal initiatives, and a proposed law to close a loophole in hate crime legislation.
The Hate Crime Sentencing Enhancement Act of 1994 provides an expansive definition of the term "hate crime." It includes situations in which the victim or property was selected due to the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person. A total of 11,211 participating police agencies in 49 States and the District of Columbia reported 8,049 hate crimes in 1997. The main rationale for hate crime legislation is that harassment and intimidation, assault, and property destruction assume a particularly dangerous and socially disruptive character when motivated by prejudice. Forty-one States and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation on this issue. Opponents of hate crime legislation focus on issues of free speech, due process, and equal protection. Congress has provided broad, bipartisan support in recent years for several Federal initiatives to address these violent crimes. It is time to strengthen the Federal response further by passing the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 1999 to fill gaps in existing legislation. Tables and reference notes


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