Office of the Attorney General
December 22, 1997
MEMORANDUM FOR ALL UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS
FROM: THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
SUBJECT: Implementation of the Hate Crime Initiative
I am deeply concerned about the problem of hate crimes in the United States. As the recent White House Conference on Hate Crimes demonstrated, it is a concern shared by the President and by Americans throughout the country. As a Nation, we have made great progress in reducing the level of hatred and bigotry. But bias-related violence and intimidation continue to injure our people and mar our communities, to threaten the progress we have made and impede new advances. Hate crimes have no place in civilized society.
Earlier this year I asked the Office of the Deputy Attorney General to establish a Hate Crimes Working Group to examine the problem of hate crimes. Over the past 6 months a Working Group drawn from interested components across the Department--including the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA) and three U.S. Attorney Offices--has examined five principal areas related to hate crimes: legislative initiatives, data collection, community outreach, prosecution and enforcement, and coordination. Two principles have guided the Working Group: first, the recognition that addressing the problem of hate crimes requires coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement, as well as community leaders; and second, although hate crimes are a national problem that require national attention, they require an approach that draws on local people to craft solutions that are tailored to the particular problems of the local community.
Last month the Working Group submitted to me a memorandum outlining a number of specific proposals that together would comprise the Department's Hate Crimes Initiative. On October 29, 1997, after consultation with the Attorney General's Advisory Committee (AGAC), I approved each of these proposals, a number of which were highlighted by the President at the Hate Crimes Conference on November 10, 1997. As the President announced, the centerpiece of the Department's initiative is the formation in each U.S. Attorney's District of a working group consisting of federal, state, and local law enforcement, as well as local community leaders and educators, to develop a comprehensive approach to hate crimes. As the President explained, "Starting today, every United States Attorney in our country will establish or expand working groups to develop enforcement practices, and educate the public about hate crimes. This national hate crimes network will marshal the resources of federal, state and local enforcement, community groups, educators, [and] anti-violence advocates, to give us another powerful tool in the struggle against hate crimes."--Transcript of the President's Remarks, White House Conference on Hate Crimes, November 10, 1997.
The local groups will be asked to address the problem of hate crime with four goals in mind: first, to ensure effective law enforcement by drawing on the resources of federal, state, and local law enforcement, as well as community leaders, in a coordinated fashion; second, to use community outreach to help ensure effective reporting, investigation, prosecution, and, ultimately, prevention of hate crime, as well as to heal wounds, in the community caused by hate crimes; third, to aggressively expand hate crime education and training to include a wide range of programs, including the training of federal, state, and local law enforcement in hate crime enforcement, classroom-based education programs targeted at young people, and others; and finally, to improve data collection, so that with accurate statistics we can understand the full scope of the problem and effectively deploy our resources to combat it.
This is an ambitious agenda. But you should know that we are not asking you and your local working groups to accomplish this alone. Rather, the local working groups are one important component in a broader initiative, which is coordinated out of the Office of the Deputy Attorney General. That effort brings together the various Departmental components with responsibilities in this area, other federal agencies (such as Treasury, Defense, Education, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development) and national advocacy groups to provide support to the local groups. In the coming months other senior officials and I will be speaking about hate crime in an effort to focus national attention on the importance of addressing this problem.
In addition, there are Department initiatives underway and resources available that will complement the efforts of your working groups. For example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Civil Rights Division, and EOUSA have been working on an initiative for improving criminal civil rights enforcement. It involves conducting more aggressive FBI field office outreach to local law enforcement and community groups in order to increase detection and reporting of civil rights crimes; improving the training, experience and expertise of civil rights agents; increasing pro-active measures; producing faster and better coordinated prosecutive decisions, and sharpening data collection and trend analysis.
Moreover, through the FBI, Office of Justice Programs, Community Relations Service, and others, the Department is currently developing educational and training materials to aid in the fight against hate crime.
The most immediate task is for each of you to designate a representative from your office to serve as the hate crime coordinator and contact person for your office. You may designate your Civil Rights Point of Contact, or any other appropriate person, to fulfill this role. Please identify this person to Brenda Baldwin-White, Counsel to the Director, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, by January 5, 1998. She can be reached by fax at (202) 514-8340, by email at AEX15BWHITE, or by telephone at (202) 514-6267.
To kick off the Hate Crime Initiative, the Department is planning to host a Conference for the hate crime coordinators from each of the Districts in February, 1998. The Conference will focus on enforcement strategies, available Department resources, and other issues that will be important as the Hate Crime Initiative is implemented. It will also bring to the attention of your local hate crime working groups information and lessons learned from the President's November 10, 1997, conference.
The problems posed by hate crime are difficult, but not intractable. I am committed to making this issue a priority in the coming year, and am grateful for your assistance in this most critical endeavor.