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Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2005 introduced by Congressmen Shays, Frank, Conyers and Ros-Lehtinen

Location: Washington, DC

Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2005 introduced by Congressmen Shays, Frank, Conyers and Ros-Lehtinen

Representatives Barney Frank (D-MA), Christopher Shays (R-CT), John Conyers (D-MI) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen(R-FL) today announced introduction of legislation to give federal protection to the victims of hate crimes.

The Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2005 will make it easier for federal authorities to prosecute bias crimes, in the same way that the Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996 helped federal prosecutors combat church arson: by loosening the unduly rigid jurisdictional requirements under federal law. Similar legislation filed last year had almost 200 bipartisan cosponsors.

"We realized that we needed to make a small change to last year's bill by explicitly including transgendered persons for protection under this bill. It is important to carefully identify those people who are most likely to be singled out for pernicious acts," said Congressman Barney Frank.

For the year 2003, the most recently available data, the FBI compiled reports from law enforcement agencies across the country identifying 7,489 criminal incidents that were motivated by an offender's irrational antagonism toward some personal attribute associated with the victim. Law enforcement identified 9,100 victims arising from 8,715 separate criminal offenses. Religious bias and sexual orientation bias each accounted for 16.4 percent of reported single-bias hate crimes, followed by ethnicity/national origin bias with 14.2 percent and disability bias with 0.5 percent of single bias-motivated offenses. It is widely believed that hate crimes are seriously under-reported.

Under federal hate crimes legislation, the primary responsibility in prosecuting these crimes lies with the state. The legislation operates to give assistance to the states. Extending the federal law would allow state and local authorities to take advantage of federal investigative resources and personnel in bringing cases based on state law.

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