ADL LAUDS SENATE ACTION ON CHURCH ARSONS BILL
New York, NY, June 26, 1996...ADL today welcomed Senate passage
of the Church Arsons Prevention Act of 1996, which would make it easier
for federal authorities to investigate and prosecute attacks on houses of
worship. The rash of fires that have damaged dozens of Southern churches
prompted Congress to respond by providing increased jurisdiction and assistance
with investigations and extending the Hate Crime Statistics Act (HCSA).
HCSA requires government to collect data on bias-motivated crimes.
While the House unanimously passed a similar measure on June 18, the Senate
bill, sponsored by Sens. Kennedy (D-MA) and Faircloth (R-NC), incorporates
important additional measures, including: a six year renewal of HCSA, federal
assistance for investigations of the arsons, and the establishment of a
Loan Guarantee Recovery Fund to help rebuild damaged property in the communities
impacted by the arsons. The House is expected to take up the Senate version
of the bill later this week.
ADL has long urged enactment of a permanent mandate for HCSA. The Senate-passed
bill provides only a six year mandate yet represents an important step toward
institutionalizing the ongoing monitoring of hate crimes and an appropriate
response to these hurtful attacks on the churches.
ADL National Chairman David H. Strassler and National Director Abraham
H. Foxman issued the following statement:
We commend the Senate's bipartisan action to undermine the attempts of haters
to make victims feel isolated and vulnerable. Expanding federal jurisdiction
for these hate crimes and requiring government collection of data in order
to assess the nature and magnitude of the problem demonstrate that punishing
hate violence is a serious priority for law enforcement.
We look forward to working with the House toward swift enactment of this
legislation -- to reaffirm that victims of hate crimes have the full support
of Congress and of the American criminal justice system.
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.