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The Need For Hate Crime Legislation

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The Briefing Room

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 19, 2000

June 19, 2000

"This year, America needs action. No one should be victimized because of how they look, how they worship, or who they are. We need to work together as partners and as a national community to fight crimes fueled by hate. And we need strong federal hate crimes legislation."

President Bill Clinton
April 25, 2000


  • Nearly 60,000 Hate Crime Incidents Have Been Reported Since 1991. According to the FBI, there have been nearly 60,000 hate crime incidents reported since 1991.
  • Nearly 8,000 Hate Crime Incidents Were Reported In 1998. In 1998, the latest year for which FBI figures are available, nearly 8,000 hate crime incidents were reported – nearly one hate crime every hour of every day. In 1998, there were 7,755 hate crimes incidents were reported: 4,321 motivated by race (56%); 1,390 by religion (18%); and 1,260 by sexual orientation (16%).


  • Intergovernmental Assistance Program. Provides technical, forensic, prosecutorial or any other form of assistance to state and local law enforcement officials in cases that are motivated by bias based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or that is a hate crime under state law.
  • Federal Assistance and Training Grants. Authorizes the Attorney General to make grants up to $100,000 to state, local, and Indian law enforcement officials who have incurred extraordinary expenses associated with investigating and prosecuting hate crimes. Authorizes grants to train local law enforcement officers in identifying, investigating, prosecuting, and preventing hate crimes, including hate crimes committed by juveniles.
  • Prohibition of Hate Crimes.
  • Gives the Justice Department jurisdiction over crimes of violence involving bodily injury, if motivated because of a person’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. Current law does not cover sexual orientation, gender, or disability.
  • Interstate Commerce Requirement. For crimes based on religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability, a connection to interstate commerce is included for jurisdictional purposes.
  • Certification Requirement. Prior to federally indicting someone, the Justice Department must certify that: 1) there is reasonable cause to believe that the crime was motivated by bias; and 2) the Justice Department has consulted with state or local law enforcement officials and determined that either a) the state does not have jurisdiction or does not intend to exercise jurisdiction; b) the state has requested that the Justice Department assume jurisdiction; c) the state does not object to the Justice Department assuming jurisdiction; or d) the state has completed prosecution and the Justice Department wants to initiate a subsequent prosecution.
  • Amends the Hate Crimes Statistics Act (HCSA) to Include Gender. Requires the FBI to collect data from states on gender-based hate crimes in the same manner that it currently collects data for race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or ethnicity.


  • It is Constitutional. In a letter dated June 13, 2000, to Senator Kennedy, the Department of Justice has stated unequivocally that "this statute would be constitutional under governing Supreme Court precedents."
  • Maintains primary role of state and local law enforcement in these cases. Enacting hate crimes legislation will not federalize all violent crimes. State and local law enforcement will continue to play the primary role in the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes. Building productive partnerships with state and local law enforcement will be the Department of Justice’s primary goal.
  • Does not threaten free speech. This legislation would punish violent acts, not beliefs or thoughts. It does not punish or prohibit in any way name-calling, verbal abuse or expressions of bias or hatred toward any group even if such statements amount to hate speech.

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