All Americans have a stake in an effective response to violent bigotry. Hate crimes demand a priority response because of their special emotional and psychological impact on the victim and the victim's community. The damage done by hate crimes cannot be measured solely in terms of physical injury or dollars and cents. Hate crimes may effectively intimidate other members of the victim's community, leaving them feeling isolated, vulnerable and unprotected by the law. By making members of minority communities fearful, angry and suspicious of other groups — and of the power structure that is supposed to protect them — these incidents can damage the fabric of our society and fragment communities.
ADL has long been in the forefront of national and state efforts to deter and counteract hate-motivated criminal activity. Hate crime statutes are necessary because the failure to recognize and effectively address this unique type of crime could cause an isolated incident to explode into widespread community tension.
In June 1993, the United States Supreme Court upheld a Wisconsin hate crime statute that was based on model legislation originally drafted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in 1981. (Wisconsin v. Mitchell, 508 U.S. 476 (1993)).
The following year, ADL published a detailed report on hate crimes laws, Hate Crimes Laws: A Comprehensive Guide, which functions as a reference on hate crimes legislation nationwide. This update is meant to complement the 1994 report and encompasses changes that have occurred since that time, including the League's recent addition of gender to its model hate crimes legislation, and the passage of additional Federal legislation, as well as a description of a number of Federal training and education initiatives to confront hate violence.