NY Governor and Assembly Speaker Announce Agreement on Historic Hate Crimes Legislation
(ALBANY, NY) – Governor George E. Pataki [R] and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver [D] today announced the passage of historic hate crimes legislation designed to appropriately punish those who commit hate crimes in New York. The legislation defines the term "hate crime" and is patterned after model legislation by the Anti-Defamation League.
"Assaulting a man or a woman because they are a member of a particular ethnic group or religious minority or because of their sexual orientation is an attack on all New Yorkers," Governor Pataki said. "People who act on hate need to know their punishment will be swift, severe and just."
"Hate crimes do more than threaten the safety and welfare of all citizens, they disrupt entire communities and cannot be tolerated by a civilized society," the Governor said. "These heinous acts are so inherently destructive to society that they deserve special consideration under the law."
Speaker Silver said, "This is a long-overdue moment for New York, the most diverse state in our nation. Our rich history and traditions are the sum of our diversity and our strong dynamic society is an expression of our tolerance. With this new law, we again reject hatred bigotry and prejudice. Forty states have laws penalizing hate crimes. Now, New York State too is remaining true to that which has made us great by clearly saying no to hate."
Senator Roy Goodman [R] said, "After years of advocating for a hate crimes law in new York we finally have achieved a tremendous victory for all the people who have been victimized by these crimes. This new law will provide a strong deterrent to those who would use hate as a motive to intimidate and victimize innocent people."
Assembly Deputy Speaker Arthur O. Eve [D] said, "For eleven consecutive years, the Assembly passed bias-related crime legislation because it was the right thing to do. "I'm pleased to see that the Governor and the Senate now agree with the need for New York to join other states in putting a hate crimes law on the books."
A hate crime is committed when a person commits a "specified offense," such as murder, assault, kidnapping, arson, or other crimes against an individual because of his or her race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, age, disability, religion or religious practice or sexual orientation. The bill enhances penalties by raising the specified offense one category higher when it is a misdemeanor or a class C, D, or E felony.
Similarly, the bill enhances penalties for those who commit specified B and A felonies against an individual based on race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, age, disability, religion or religious practice or sexual orientation.
Criminal acts involving violence, intimidation, and destruction of property based upon bias and prejudice have become more commonplace in New York State in recent years. In these crimes, commonly referred to as "hate crimes," victims are intentionally selected, in whole or in part because of their race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion or religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation.
This legislation will ensure that only those who are truly motivated by hatred are prosecuted for committing hate crimes. For example, while a defendant may have been motivated by racial hatred in selecting the victim, the mere fact that the defendant and the victim are of different races would not be sufficient to establish the defendant's guilt of a hate crime – additional proof is required.
Current law does not adequately recognize the harm to public order and individual safety that hate crimes cause. Our laws must be strengthened to provide clear recognition of the gravity of hate crimes and the compelling importance of preventing their recurrence.
This legislation accomplishes that end by creating a new crime that recognizes the insidious consequence of hate crimes and provides for increased sentences.
State of New York
George E. Pataki, Governor