FIGHTING HATE IN OUR COMMUNITIES
[Source: Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, 10/97]
FIGHTING HATE CRIMES THROUGH TOUGH LAW ENFORCEMENT:Vigorously Prosecuting Hate Crimes Under the Civil Rights Statutes. Several federal statutes provide jurisdiction to prosecute hate crimes -- crimes where the perpetrator selects his victim on the basis of certain characteristics such as race, color, religion, and national origin. Since 1989, over 500 defendants in more than half of the 50 states have been convicted on federal criminal civil rights charges for interfering with various federally protected rights of minority victims. Virtually all defendants charged in these cases have been convicted. President Clinton's Justice Department has vigorously prosecuted hate crime incidents, including where the defendants were members of organized hate groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan and various skinhead gangs.
Enhanced Penalties For Hate Crimes. As part of the historic 1994 Crime Act, the President signed the Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act which provides for longer sentences where the offense is determined to be a hate crime. In 1996 alone, 27 cases received enhanced sentences.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) Provides Expertise in Arson and Explosives Investigations to Help Fight Hate Crimes Throughout America. While enforcing explosives and arson laws over which it has jurisdiction, ATF has participated in the investigations of bombing and arson incidents triggered by animus against characteristics such as race and sexual orientation. The ATF, for example, has investigated the bombing of predominantly gay bars and nightclubs.
Sensible Gun Regulation Helps Stem the Flow Of Firearms that Can Fuel Hate Group Activity. Many organized hate groups use guns to carry out violent offenses covered by hate crime statutes. Treasury bureaus work to intercept gun shipments into the U.S. and to regulate the illegal sale and possession of firearms by potential perpetrators of hate crimes and other offenses.
PROSECUTING HATE CRIMES AIMED AT OUR HOUSES OF WORSHIP:Fighting Hate Crimes Aimed at Houses of Worship. The President fought for and signed the Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996, which facilitates prosecutions of racially motivated arsons and other acts of desecration against houses of worship.
Creating the National Church Arson Task Force. President Clinton established the National Church Arson Task Force (NCATF) in June 1996 to oversee the investigation and prosecution of arsons at houses of worship around the country. The NCATF has brought together the FBI, ATF, and Justice Department prosecutors in partnership with state and local law enforcement officers and prosecutors. Well over 200 ATF and FBI investigators have been deployed in these investigations. In addition, the NCATF has coordinated with other agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, in the federal government's efforts to promote arson prevention and provide resources for church rebuilding.
Many of the 508 incidents investigated by NCATF have been solved, mainly by a combination of federal and state arrests and prosecutions. Since January 1995, there have been 240 arrests and over 100 convictions, including the first convictions under the Church Arson Prevention Act. This rate of arrest (35%) for crimes that may have been motivated by hate or bias is more than double the 16% rate of arrest for arsons in general.
WORKING WITH COMMUNITIES AGAINST HATE:Bringing Communities Together to Fight Hate. The Department of Justice's Community Relations Service often becomes involved when a hate crime incident threatens harmonious racial and ethnic relations in a community. The Service uses mediation to provide representatives of community groups and local governments with an impartial forum to restore stability through dialogue and discussion. It conducts training conferences on how to prevent and respond to hate crimes for state and local law enforcement and agencies, academic institutions, and civic, business, and community organizations.
Focusing on Youth Attitudes that Create Hate Crimes. The Department of Education is supporting efforts at the local level to develop and implement innovative and effective strategies for preventing hate crimes, including by funding programs aimed at reducing violent, hate-motivated behavior among youth.
UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM OF HATE CRIMES:Gathering Information on the National Scope of the Problem. The FBI Uniform Crime Report collects the only national data on hate crimes through the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program. In 1996, 11,355 law enforcement agencies, representing 84% of the nation's population, participated in the FBI's data collection efforts. These departments reported 8,759 incidents of hate crimes in 1996.
Studying Hate Crimes: The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has funded the first large-scale study of the mental health consequences of hate crimes, focusing on anti-gay hate crimes. The preliminary findings of this research are that hate crimes have more serious psychological effects on victims than do non-bias motivated, but otherwise similar crimes. The study also provides information about the prevalence of anti-gay hate crimes and the rate at which these crimes are reported to the police.