Board Resolution ~ 02/20/1999

On Federal Hate Crimes Legislation

Resolution of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers On Federal Hate Crimes Legislation 

Jacksonville, Flodia

February 20, 1999

WHEREAS, Senate Bill S. 9, Subsection G, Sec. 3701 and its companion measure in the House of Representatives, H.R. 77, entitled the Hates Crimes Prevention Act ("HCPA"), represent an effort to assure the civil rights of gays and lesbians, people of color, immigrants, women, religious minorities and individuals with disabilities, by providing the federal government with authority to investigate and prosecute cases in which violence occurs because of the perpetrator's bias against the victim's perceived status;

WHEREAS, there is a role for federal government in securing the civil rights of all in these protected classes; however,

WHEREAS, the federal government increasingly -- and inappropriately -- reaches for federal criminal law to answer complicated social problems;

WHEREAS, as focused, the current legislation does not focus on education or alternative solutions to such crimes but rather simply on increasing punishment within the context of an already out-of-control and Draconian federal criminal justice system;

WHEREAS, the serious problem of bias-motivated violence against people of color, women, the disabled, gays and lesbians, immigrants, and religious minorities is best address through positive federal legislation directed at social support and education;

AND, WHEREAS, bias in the enforcement of state criminal laws -- including the under prosection of violent crimes agains gays and lesbians -- should be investigated and punished by the withholding of federal funds;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the National Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers takes the position that it cannot support HCPA as focused; and,

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACDL call upon the federal government to draft legislation which would empower federal authorities to investigate the bias of state and federal law enforcement, to ensure fairness in decisions about what crimes to prosecute and to guarantee the unbiased treatment of the accused.

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