Bill gives DOJ power to assist in investigation and prosecution of bias-motivated violent crimes
The House of Representatives today passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 (H.R. 1913), also known as the Matthew Shepard Act. The legislation will provide federal assistance to states, local jurisdictions, and Indian tribes to prosecute hate crimes. Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Malden), a cosponsor of the bill, praised its passage:
Rep. Markey said, "Violent crime motivated by hatred, bigotry and prejudice is especially heinous and unacceptable in our society. For more than four decades, Americans have had protections from hate crimes through a federal hate crimes statute. It's time to close gaps in this law and allow local jurisdictions to more effectively punish and deter these bias-motivated violent crimes. I am proud to be a co-sponsor of the Local Hates Crimes bill to protect the rights of groups targeted by prejudice across Massachusetts and the United States."
The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 is virtually identical to a bill passed by a bipartisan vote of 237-180 on May 3, 2007, which Rep. Markey also cosponsored. The bill is supported by more than 300 law enforcement, religious, civil rights, disability, and other organizations. Some of the key law enforcement groups that support the bill are the International Association of Chiefs of Police, National Sheriffs' Association, Police Executive Research Forum, Police Foundation, and National District Attorneys Association.