ADL Calls For Congressional Action To Close Federal Hate Crime Gap
Washington, DC, July 8, 1998...The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called on
Congress to enact legislation to eliminate gaps in Federal authority to investigate and
prosecute bias-motivated crimes. The League submitted testimony at hearings before the
Senate Judiciary Committee on the proposed legislation, the Hate Crime Prevention Act
"The senseless, brutal murder of James Byrd, Jr. in Jasper, Texas last month,
allegedly by individuals associated with a white supremacist group, has horrified the
nation," said Howard P. Berkowitz, ADL National Chairman, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL
National Director. "While local law enforcement officials have responded effectively
to this crime, crimes of this magnitude transcend state law -- yet the individuals
apparently responsible for this crime may escape Federal justice."
Under current Federal law, the government must prove that the crime occurred because of
a person's membership in a protected group, such as race or religion, and because
he/she was engaging in a federally-protected activity (such as voting, going to school, or
working). The HCPA would eliminate these overly restrictive limitations and provide
authority for federal investigations and prosecutions in cases in which the bias violence
occurs because of the victim's sexual orientation, gender, or disability.
"Almost every state has now enacted a hate crime statute -- many based on an ADL
model law, but less than half the state laws cover crimes directed at individuals because
of their sexual orientation, gender, or disability," said Mr. Berkowitz and Mr.
Foxman. "Federal authorities must have jurisdiction to address those cases in which
local authorities are either unable or unwilling to investigate and prosecute."
The HCPA is sponsored by Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Arlen Specter (R-PA), and
Ron Wyden (D-OR) in the Senate, and Reps. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Bill
McCollum (R-FL) in the House. The HCPA is strongly supported by President Clinton, the
Department of Justice, twenty-two state Attorneys General, and a broad range of national
civil rights groups, state and local government associations, and law enforcement
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.