Federal Hate Crimes
The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA) was signed into law by President Barack Obama on October 28, 2009.
What is a Hate Crime?
A hate crime occurs when the perpetrator of a crime intentionally selects a victim because of who the victim is. Hate crimes rend the fabric of our society and fragment communities because they target an entire community or group of people, not just the individual victim.
What does the HCPA do?
The HCPA gives the Department of Justice (DOJ) the power to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence by providing the DOJ with jurisdiction over crimes of violence where a perpetrator has selected a victim because of the person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
In addition, it provides the DOJ with the ability to aid state and local jurisdictions with investigations and prosecutions of bias-motivated crimes of violence. The HCPA authorizes the DOJ to provide grants to state and local communities to cover the extraordinary expenses associated with the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes. It also authorizes the provision of grants for local programs to combat hate crimes committed by juveniles, including programs that train local law enforcement officers in identifying, investigating, prosecuting and preventing hate crimes.
Furthermore, the HCPA requires the Federal Bureau of Investigation to track statistics on hate crimes based on gender and gender identity (statistics for the other groups were already tracked).