A hate crime occurs when the perpetrator of the crime intentionally selects the victim because of who the victim is. Hate crimes rend the fabric of our society and fragment communities because they target an entire community or group of people, not just the individual victim. However, in most cases, current law prevents the federal government from assisting state and local authorities.
The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act / Matthew Shepard Act gives the Justice Department the power to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence by providing the department with jurisdiction over crimes of violence where the perpetrator has selected the victim because of the person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
What is the Current Status of the Bill?
In the 110th Congress, the LLEHCPA was introduced by Representative John Conyers (D-MI) and approved in the House by a bi-partisan vote of 237-180. The Senate version, the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, was introduced by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and offered as an amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization (DoD) bill. After a successful 60-39 vote to prevent a filibuster, the Matthew Shepard Act was adopted by voice vote and added to the DoD bill. Unfortunately, the hate crimes provision was not included in the final version of the DoD bill. LEARN MORE