Legislative Memo: Hate Crimes Bill
Subject: A.1573 / S.1038 Hate Crimes Bill Position: Does Not Go Far Enough AN ACT to amend the criminal procedure law, the penal law and the civil rights law, in relation to strengthening civil rights protections and to make bias related violence or intimidation a criminal offense. The NYCLU recognizes and appreciates the efforts of the sponsors of this legislation to increase the penalties for acts of violence which are motivated by the prejudices of the person committing the act. However, this legislative response to a serious and widespread problem is inadequate. Consequently, the NYCLU cannot offer its unequivocal support. This bill fails to include the appointment of a special prosecutor for bias related acts and the right for the victim of bias related violence to seek civil remedies. Alternatively, but not as useful, the legislature should consider the establishment of a bias resource center. This independent agency would provide expert legal assistance on matters involving bias related acts of violence. The NYCLU cannot fully support a bill that gives judges a right to impose stiffer penalties, but which fails to offer remedies to the problem. If this bill were to become law, it could potentially make the future passage of truly comprehensive anti-bias legislation difficult. The NYCLU takes a position of qualified support on S. 1038 / A. 1573.