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October 23, 2009

New hate crimes bill requires US Sentencing Commission to complete mandatory minimum study

As detailed in this New York Times article, the "Senate voted Thursday to extend new federal protections to people who are victims of violent crime because of their sex or sexual orientation, bringing the measure close to reality after years of fierce debate."  Though this federal criminal justice development is probably of much more symbolic than practical importance, the hate crime bill includes a provision that requires the US Sentencing Commission to produce a new study on the impact of mandatory minimum sentences.

This statement from Senator Patrick Leahy provides some helpful background on the bill.  Here is how the statement starts and how it explains the mandatory minimum part of the story:

After more than a decade, Congress is finally set to pass the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, and I expect the President to sign it promptly. I am proud that Congress has come together to show that violence against members of any group because of who they are will not be tolerated in this country....

This legislation was carefully crafted to respect constitutional limits and differences of opinion. It will combat acts of violence motivated by hatred and bigotry, but it does not target speech, however offensive or disagreeable, and it does not target religious expression.

I wish there had been more Republican support for this important civil rights amendment. Nonetheless, in the Senate we worked to address bipartisan concerns and issues. We incorporated Republican amendments mandating guidelines for hate crimes prosecutions, further changing First Amendment protections, and creating a new criminal offense for attacks against service members because of their service.

I am disappointed that the service members provision contains a mandatory minimum sentence because I believe that mandatory minimum sentences can have unintended and unfortunate effects on sentencing and on our criminal justice system.  However, I was pleased that we were able to limit the provision to one modest mandatory minimum sentence and require the United States Sentencing Commission to study the effect of mandatory minimum sentences.  I am also glad that we were able to pass this bill without adding a new Federal death penalty, which would have needlessly inserted a divisive issue into this legislation.

October 23, 2009 at 10:02 AM | Permalink

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Comments

The pedophile says, "I felt threatened (assault)." You go to jail under this law, another lawyer abomination. Indeed, the lawyer says, "I felt threatened (assault)." You go to jail because there is a perception of religion in his supernatural doctrines, and of a disability (the lawyer dumbass effect of law school education).

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 23, 2009 11:50:39 AM

Oh yeah! Another study! Excuse me if I'm not excited.

Hasn't the USSC already done this study? And wasn't it done pursuant to another request by Congress? And what did the Congress do with that study? Oh that's right, it continued to enact mandatory minimums.

The USSC and the judicial conference (and many, many others) have long complained about mandatory minimums. They have consistently concluded that they are ineffective. Does Congress need another study that it will just disregard?

Posted by: DEJ | Oct 23, 2009 12:07:03 PM

mandatory minimums are a boon to rent-seeking running dog lackey lawyers becuase clients pay a fortune to fight them--as one heck of a running-dog rent-seeking capitalist, I say bring 'em on-the more the better-sc, i'm with you!

Posted by: anonwealthyrentseeker | Oct 23, 2009 12:16:54 PM

I agree, a mandatory sentence minimum could create a lot of unintended and not previously considered problems in the future. It's also pretty sad that it's taken so long just to get to this point..

Posted by: Obama's Stimulus Package | Oct 23, 2009 1:50:35 PM

I just read the Matthew Shepard bill as posted on the Senate website and didn't see any reference to this. Could you post a link to the sections with those provisions

Posted by: shay | Oct 23, 2009 2:14:47 PM

I hate hate crimes legislation. That makes me a hater who loves haters. So does that make me a lover or a hater? I'm still trying to figure that out.

Posted by: Daniel | Oct 23, 2009 2:23:20 PM

lol took long enough 10 years. Figures even lawyers which is what most of the govt is made up of today know...if you BUG PEOPLE enough about something they will give in JUST TO SHUT YOU UP.

this part of the article tells you what a joke it is!

"After more than a decade, Congress is finally set to pass the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act,"

and just WHY is a crime bill part of the Defense bill? could it be becasue since we are STUCK IN TWO WARS it HAS TO BE SIGNED.

just maybe this president has guts enough to refuse and send it back to it only contains RELEVANT material.

Posted by: rodsmith3510 | Oct 23, 2009 3:33:21 PM

Instead of new, redundant laws, how about grants or funds or other resources to prosecute hate crimes under existing laws?

Posted by: Observer | Oct 23, 2009 6:11:39 PM

"I am also glad that we were able to pass this bill without adding a new Federal death penalty, which would have needlessly inserted a divisive issue into this legislation."

For those who might be wondering what that means, a "divisive" issue is a proposal that Senator Leahy opposes and other people favor. A "nondivisive" issue is a proposal that other people oppose and Senator Leahy favors.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Oct 23, 2009 6:59:15 PM

I hate the fedreal system they give y ou what ever time they want.My son was railroaded by some white judge for carjacking a vehichle never been in trouble before no prior record but judge said he would use him for an example and he recieved twentyone years in federal prison was only nineteen at time he is twenty five now thats how the system does our black boys.No one was hurt or killed People kill and dont recieve that harsh punishment

Posted by: Teresa Bell, mother | Nov 22, 2009 6:58:15 PM

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