Hate Crimes Act Research Paper

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On May 12, 2001, Governor Rick Perry signed into action House Bill 587, also known as the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act. This single piece of legislation would change the way crimes committed against persons of a group identified by race, color, disability, religion, national origin or ancestry, age, gender, or sexual preference would be prosecuted. It may be the single most important piece of legislation that I have seen come out of the Texas Legislation in a long time, and especially in 2001 as Governor Perry took over a crippled Texas from the hands of former Governor George W. Bush. The Act is named after James Byrd Jr, an African American from Jasper, Texas. On June 7, 1998, Byrd accepted a ride from three intoxicated men, one of which he knew, who agreed to take him home after he'd left a party, intoxicated, several miles from his house. Instead of taking him home, however, they took him to a parking lot behind a convenience store, beat him, stripped him…show more content…
Hate Crimes Act is, in part, a response to Texas' original Hate Crimes law that was passed in 1993. That law enhanced the penalties for crimes targeting victims identified by membership in a group, such as Vietnam veterans, or Jewish Synagogue members. However the law became incredibly vague in it's effectiveness to sentence appropriately those crimes that targeted people of any minority group and those who sexual preference was opposite the norm. Since 1993, the Texas Legislature has sought, through the introduction of proposed alternatives to the hate crimes law, to redefine “which victims are protected: those selected for their race, religion, or sexual orientation.”[1] This redefinition came to fruition on January 10, 2001 during the 77th Texas Legislative Session when HB 587 was introduced and authored by Representative Senfronia Thompson (D), and joint authored by 64 other members of the House, including Pete Gallego, and sponsored by Senator Rodney Ellis from

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