HRC Blog

Implementation of the Shepard-Byrd Act

Over two years ago, President Obama signed legislation that gave federal authorities jurisdiction over violent bias-motivated crimes against the LGBT community.  While passage of the law was a landmark moment for the LGBT community, the law would merely be words on paper without proper implementation.  In order to effectively implement the Shepard-Byrd Act, the Department of Justice, which has enforcement authority over the Act, needed to be engaged in educating prosecutors, investigators and the LGBT community on the new law.

This week, Matt Nosanchuk, Senior Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the Department of Justice, blogged about the work being done at the Department of Justice to implement and enforce the new law.  His blog highlights conferences that have occurred in dozens of locations across the nation “to bring federal, state, and local law enforcement together with community stakeholders to educate them about the new law and the need for collaboration in its enforcement.”  These conferences have trained “thousands of law enforcement officers and community stakeholders” about the law.  Matthew Shepard’s parents, as well as the Police Chief involved in investigating the crime against Matthew, have spoken at many of these conferences about “the unique nature of hate crimes, the devastating impact they have on families and communities, and the importance of the Shepard-Byrd Act.” 

Since passage of the Shepard-Byrd Act, HRC has worked closely with the Department of Justice on implementation of the Act.  We have trained the Community Relations Service on LGBT cultural competency and have worked with the FBI to prepare guidelines and forms to begin collecting statistics on hate crimes based on gender identity.  We also have implemented a system for notifying the Community Relations Service, Civil Rights Division and FBI about crimes that occur against our community.  Moreover, we have collaborated with the Department to ensure that the LGBT community is included in the dozens of training conferences that have occurred across the nation.

We look forward to our continued work with the Department of Justice and we will continue to advocate for strong, comprehensive state-level hate crime laws in all 50 states.  To learn more about state-level advocacy for hate crimes laws, download HRC’s A Guide to State-Level Advocacy Following the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

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