HRC Blog

U.S. Sentencing Commission Promulgates Amendments to Hate Crime Guidelines

The U.S. Sentencing Commission has promulgated amendments  to the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines after receiving public comment, including comment submitted in March by the Human Rights Campaign, along with the Anti-Defamation League, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the National Council for Jewish Women. In our public comment, we wrote to ensure that amendments were promulgated to make the Guidelines conform with the recently enacted Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The amendments promulgated by the Commission broaden the Guidelines to include the new hate crime offense in the criminal division of the Guidelines that applies to “offenses involving individual rights.”

The Commission’s amendments also expanded the definition of a hate crime in its penalty enhancement provision to include victims who were targeted because of their gender identity (the penalty enhancement provision of the Guidelines already accounted for hate crimes based on sexual orientation). These amendments are an important step towards fully implementing the federal hate crimes law passed last year, and HRC remains committed to seeing that the federal hate crimes law is well-implemented and firmly enforced. The Commission submitted these amendments to Congress on April 29th and they will be enacted if they are not disapproved by Congress before November 1st.

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