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An Initiative for Stronger Hate Crime Laws

The tragic murder of African Americans engaged in Bible study in Charleston, SC, on June 17 has highlighted the unfortunate fact that bias-motivated violence in our nation is still a sad reality.

For more than three decades, ADL has spearheaded the drafting, enactment and implementation of hate crime laws, working in partnership with other civil rights and religious organizations, law enforcement groups, civic agencies and business leaders. Today, the federal government and 45 states and the District of Columbia have their own hate crime laws. We have had considerable success, but we need to do more.

"For the memory of the Charleston 9, for the memory of Leo Frank, for the memories of thousands who have lost their lives or have had their lives changed by a hate crime…"


—Jonathan Greenblatt,
ADL National Director


Current State of Hate crime Laws

  • States (including D.C.) with comprehensive hate crime laws that cover: race, religion, ethnicity/ national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and disability.

  • States without comprehensive hate crimes laws.

  • States with no hate crimes laws.

Why do we need to do more?

  • In 2014, the most recent national data available, law enforcement authorities documented almost 6,000 hate crimes – nearly one every 90 minutes of every day.

  • Hate crimes have an impact that lingers and extends beyond the specific victim.

  • Hate crimes make members of minority communities fearful, angry and suspicious.

  • Hate crimes raise tensions that can divide and polarize communities.

What Are The Goals?

Stronger Laws

  • Enact hate crime laws in the five states without them now: Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Wyoming.

  • Make existing state laws more inclusive and comprehensive so that all 50 cover hate crimes based on race, religion, ethnicity/ national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability.

Better Training

  • Enhance training for law enforcement personnel on hate crime identification, response and reporting in every state – including updating and publicizing police department policies and procedures for addressing hate violence.

Improved Data Collection

  • Improve law enforcement data collection and reporting. According to the FBI’s most recent report, 85 cities with over 100,000 in population either did not report hate crime data or affirmatively reported zero (0) hate crimes for the year 2013.

Increased Community Awareness and Reporting

  • Educate communities. Effective responses to hate violence can build trust and advance police-community relations.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is “50 States Against Hate” (#50StatesAgainstHate)?

50 States Against Hate is a new initiative to promote hate crime laws across the United States. The goal is to enact hate crime laws in the states which do not have them now, and to make existing state hate crime laws more inclusive and comprehensive.

What are hate crimes?

Hate crimes are crimes in which a perpetrator targets an individual or institution because of race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. A hate crime such as a bias-motivated assault typically carries a stiffer penalty than an assault without the bias component.

How are hate crimes different from other crimes?

Hate crimes have an impact that lingers, and extends beyond the specific victim. They make members of minority communities fearful, angry and suspicious, and raise tensions that can divide and polarize neighborhoods, towns and cities.

Why is 50 States Against Hate necessary?

One hate crime is committed in this country every 90 minutes.

What states currently do not have hate crime laws?

Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Wyoming

How many states need more inclusive and comprehensive laws?

As of August 2015, only 32 states have hate crime laws that include sexual orientation, only 31 include disability, only 29 include gender, and only 11 include gender identity. A map providing information about specific states is available on this page.

What other recommendations are included in the 50 States Against Hate initiative?

Other recommendations include enhanced training for law enforcement officers on how to identify and respond to hate crimes, better data collection and reporting by law enforcement agencies, and increased public education, all of which would improve the current situation.

Which organizations are partnering with ADL in the 50 States Against Hate initiative?

Many organizations have already signed on, and the number is growing rapidly. The national coalition partners include:

American Association of People with Disabilities; American Association of University Women (AAUW); American Psychological Association; Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC); American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO; Bend the Arc Jewish Action; Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD); GLSEN; Emerge USA; Hindu American Foundation; Human Rights Campaign; Human Rights First; Japanese American Citizens League; Jewish Council on Public Affairs; Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Latino Justice; Lawyers' Committee For Civil Rights Under Law; League of United Latin American Citizens; Matthew Shepard Foundation; Muslim Advocates; National Black Justice Coalition; National Council of Jewish Women; National Council of La Raza; National Disability Rights Network; National Organization of Women; National Urban League; Not In Our Town; Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA); People For the American Way; PFLAG National; Religious Action Center; Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Sikh Coalition; Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom; South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT); Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC); The Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ.