April 12, 2007

American Psychological Association Applauds Senators Kennedy and Smith for Advancing the “Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007”

WASHINGTON — The American Psychological Association (APA) applauds Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) for introducing the "Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007." This legislation would strengthen our nation's response to bias-motivated crimes by extending federal hate crime protections to additional at-risk groups, providing state and local law enforcement with federal assistance to prosecute hate crimes, and expanding the scope of data collection and reporting requirements regarding hate crimes.

The House companion bill (H.R. 1592) was introduced March 20 by Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), along with 136 co-sponsors.

"In addition to the physical wounds that hate crimes can leave behind, they can also have serious consequences for the mental health and well being of victims and communities," explained APA's CEO Norman B. Anderson, Ph.D. "The legislation introduced today takes an important step toward ensuring justice for all victims of hate crimes."

In 2005, the FBI documented over 7,100 hate crimes targeting a variety of groups. Currently, federal hate crime law only protects victims of crimes motivated by bias based on race, religion or national origin. Hence, hate crimes based on other factors are not always recognized and prosecuted.

The "Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act" would improve our nation's response to hate crimes by:

  • expanding current law to recognize crimes motivated by actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person,
  • enabling the federal government to address those cases that other jurisdictions are either unable or unwilling to investigate and prosecute, while retaining primary responsibility for hate crime prosecution at the state and local level, and
  • expanding the scope of data collection and reporting requirements regarding hate crimes.

The American Psychological Association is pleased to join with Senators Kennedy and Smith and their colleagues in efforts to achieve enactment of the "Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007."

For additional information, please contact Diane Elmore, Ph.D., at (202) 336-6062 or e-mail.

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 148,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting human welfare.