Press Release

September 27, 2007

U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, D-MD, today hailed Senate passage of legislation to strengthen the federal government’s role in investigating and prosecuting hate crimes.



Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act

S. 1105, would
strengthen the ability of federal, state, and local governments to investigate and prosecute hate crimes based on race, ethnic background, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and gender identity.  It will strengthen state and local efforts by enabling the Justice Department to assist them in the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes.


 “We've all read the news accounts about the African-American family who finds a burning cross on their lawn, the gay man who was tortured and killed because of his sexual orientation, the swastika painted on a synagogue or a Muslim family targeted for hostility,” said Senator Cardin, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a sponsor of the bill. “These are hate crimes and they affect not only the individual victim, but every other member of the group that that individual represents, as well as the larger community.”

The bill also will provide grants to help state and local governments meet the extraordinary expenses involved in hate crime cases.  At the federal level, the bill eliminates the outdated intent requirement in current law that prevents the Justice Department from working with state and local officials in the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes.  It will allow the federal government to step in when needed, but only after the Department has certified that a federal prosecution is necessary.

“Hate crimes
are un-American. When they happen, we are all diminished and we have a responsibility to do something about it. Today Congress sent a strong message in response to the recent rash of hate crimes,” said Senator Cardin.

The House passed similar legislation earlier this year.