[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – After the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released new data showing a 4.2 percent increase in hate crime incidents and a 6.3 percent increase in hate crime offenses from 2015 to 2016, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) renewed his call for passage of legislation to strengthen federal laws that combat bias-motivated threats and attacks. The data released today is part of a disturbing trend; last year, the FBI reported a nearly 7 percent increase in the number of hate crime incidents in 2015 compared to 2014.
“This data is particularly alarming given dramatic underreporting of hate crimes, meaning that the real incidence of bias-motivated crimes is likely much higher than what was released today,” Blumenthal said. “We should be devoting significant resources to combatting the insidious spread of hate-motivated attacks, including greater incentives for local enforcement to report these crimes. In order to fight hate, we need to understand the scope and severity of the problem—and one-hundred-percent reporting is an important step in that direction.”
Following a national surge in hate crimes, Blumenthal and U.S. Representative Don Beyer (D-VA) introduced bicameral legislation earlier this year to improve reporting and expand assistance and resources for victims of hate crimes. The National Opposition to Hate, Assault, and Threats to Equality (NO HATE) Act would help combat the recent surge in hate crimes by:
The NO HATE Act would help combat the recent surge in hate crimes by:
Helping Victims Seek Justice in the Courts: This law will establish a federal private right of action for hate crimes, offering victims of hate crimes the option to fight for remedies in civil court, and ensuring that everyone—even in states without hate crime laws on the books—can have his or her day in court. Although Connecticut has a state private right of action, most states do not.
Improving Reporting of Hate Crimes: This law will improve reporting of hate crimes by supporting the implementation of and training for NIBRS, the latest crime reporting standard, in law enforcement agencies without it. This will allow law enforcement agencies to record and report detailed information about crimes, including hate crimes, to the FBI. Between 2009 and 2015, 17 percent of all law enforcement agencies failed to file a single hate crimes report, and in some states, a majority of law enforcement agencies failed to file a single hate crime report over the same period. Helping law enforcement agencies recognize and report detailed information on hate crimes and report that data to the FBI will help establish a clear picture of the threats that vulnerable communities are facing across the country.
Establishing Hate Crime Hotlines: This law will provide grants for states to establish and run hate crime hotlines, to record information about hate crimes and to redirect victims and witnesses to law enforcement and local support services as needed. This will make sure that hate crimes don’t go unreported and victims get the help that they need. New York and Maryland established hate crime hotlines in November.
Rehabilitating Perpetrators of Hate Crimes through Education and Community Service: This law will allow for judges to require individuals convicted under federal hate crime laws to undergo community service or education centered on the community targeted by the crime.