Passing the Buck on Hate Crimes Legislation in Wyoming

Affiliate: ACLU of Wyoming
February 19, 1999 12:00 am

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WYOMING — In the state where the murder last fall of University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard shocked the nation, numerous hate crimes bills have been introduced, but very few passed, the Washington Blade reported.

One of the bills that has made its way to the state senate committee seeks to establish a “human diversity task force” to study hate crime and prepare training programs to guide police in handling bias-related crimes, the Blade said.

Marvin Johnson, Executive Director of the Wyoming Civil Liberties Union told the Blade that while there were some positive features in the bill, it was really just an attempt to avoid real hate crimes laws.

“It lets them seem like they’re doing something,” he told the Blade. “Just passing the bias-crimes bill isn’t going to help. We need to study what’s going on, what kind of bias crimes are happening. The task force is probably a step in the right direction…and it’s beneficial in terms of getting the police officers trained.”

However, the ACLU felt very strongly that the task force would not aid in next years efforts to pass hate crime legislation.

“It will give them more impetus to keep putting it off,” Johnson told the Blade. “I doubt there will be enough statistics next year to satisfy them. Next year it’ll be: ‘Well, we need more data, we need more time.'”

The Blade reported that hate crimes bills have been the most popular type of legislation introduced this year as well as last.

Source: The Washington Blade, February 19, 1999

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