Image by  Francine Sreca  from  Pixabay

Image by Francine Sreca from Pixabay

On May 20, 2021, President Biden signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, Pub. L. 117-13, which “addresses hate crimes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with particular emphasis on the increase in violence against Asian Americans.” The bill was introduced on March 23, 2021, by Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., and Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii.

According to a summary produced by the Congressional Research Service, the Act has five main provisions (cited verbatim below):

Image by  Gerd Altmann  from  Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

  • This bill requires a designated officer or employee of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to facilitate the expedited review of hate crimes and reports of hate crimes.

  • DOJ must issue guidance for state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies on establishing online hate crime reporting processes, collecting data disaggregated by protected characteristic (e.g., race or national origin), and expanding education campaigns.

  • Additionally, DOJ and the Department of Health and Human Services must issue guidance aimed at raising awareness of hate crimes during the COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic.

  • The bill establishes grants for states to create state-run hate crimes reporting hotlines. It also authorizes grants for states and local governments to implement the National Incident-Based Reporting System and to conduct law enforcement activities or crime reduction programs to prevent, address, or respond to hate crimes.

  • Finally, in the case of an individual convicted of a hate crime offense and placed on supervised release, the bill allows a court to order that the individual participate in educational classes or community service as a condition of supervised release.