Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Matthew Shepard James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act Data Collection Provisions Takes Effect at the Beginning of the New Year

The Matthew Shepard James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA), which was passed in 2009, includes provisions for more comprehensive data collection practices by expanding options for categorizing a hate crime. Starting this year, “gender,” “gender identity,” “sexual orientation” and “disability” are four new categories that are included on the Hate Crime Incident Report, a standardized document used by law enforcement to report, track and code bias-related crimes. The new categories permit the incident report to be more comprehensive and inclusive.



Additionally, the Hate Crime Incident Report not only includes all of the above categories of hate crimes, but also contains separate sections under each of the four categories to allow for a more complete understanding of who is under attack. This portion of HCPA provides urgently needed education for police officers about transgender people in a way that did not exist before.

Expanding data collection allows law enforcement and advocacy groups to begin to understand who is the most vulnerable even within LGBT and transgender communities. NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said, “Though no law by itself can stop hate, the Shepard-Byrd Act is providing real tools to help investigate, track, and even prevent hate-based violence, while sending a clear message that crimes against our communities must be taken seriously by law enforcement." The data collection provision also adds new categories under religion to begin tracking of hate crimes against Arabs, Sikhs, and Hindus, communities that have faced increasing attacks. Tracking under these categories won’t begin until 2015. The National Center for Transgender Equality joined a coalition of organizations in pushing this legislation when it was first drafted nearly 10 years ago. And moving forward, NCTE will continue to monitor and provide guidance on the implementation of the law at the state and federal levels.

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