Protect Civil Rights

ADL is one of the leading organizations working to counteract the traumatic impact of hate crimes on individuals and entire communities and to deter and prevent such crimes. We do this by fighting for more comprehensive and inclusive hate crime laws, by advocating to ensure that hate crimes investigations receive the priority attention they deserve from law enforcement and by supporting hate crime victims and their communities. Thanks in part to our work over decades, hate crimes have become a stand-alone field of law and public policy.

Spearhead Innovative Legislation

In 1981, ADL crafted the first model hate crime law in America. Today, 46 states and the District of Columbia have laws based on or similar to our model, which was unanimously upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993. We helped lead the coalition of civil rights, faith-based, law enforcement and civic organizations that worked for 13 years to secure the passage of the landmark Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009, which expanded federal hate crime legislation to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. 

ADL works with states to enact new hate crimes laws and strengthen existing ones. In 2019, after years of ADL relationship building and advocacy, the Utah Legislature passed a more effective and comprehensive law covering all classes of victims, including the LGBTQ+ community. In 2020, an ADL-led coalition of civil rights groups and corporate supporters secured passage of a new law in Georgia to enhance penalties for hate crimes in the wake of the racist murder of Ahmaud Arbery.

Support a Comprehensive Approach to Addressing Hate

We also advocate for support services to mitigate the harm hate causes, for grants that improve data about and understanding of hate and for restorative justice research that addresses the roots of hate-motivated violence.

Improve Reporting on Hate Crimes

The Justice Department collects data on hate crimes, but unfortunately, dozens of large cities either do not report hate crime data at all or underreport the data. ADL works with communities across the country to improve their hate crime prevention and reporting.