Department of Justice uses hate crimes statute on behalf of individuals with disabilities for the first time

The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed numerous charges against five defendants, including four counts of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, based on the alleged mistreatment, theft, forced labor, sex trafficking, denial of nutrition, and imprisonment of individuals with disabilities over several years and across several states.   At least two of the victims died.   This is the first time charges have been filed based in part on alleged hate crimes based on disability. To read more about this case, see the DOJ website.

Department of Justice presses charges in hate crime case in New Mexico involving individual with a developmental disability

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and local New Mexico law enforcement brought the first charges under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd J. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. Three men have been charged with assaulting a 22-year-old Navajo man with a developmental disability. The defendants admitted to covering the victim’s body with white supremacist and anti-Native American symbols, including shaving a swastika in the back of his head and using markers to write the words “KKK” and “White Power” on his skin. They recorded the incident on cell phones. Learn more about the case from DOJ.

Three Indicted in Hate Crime

A federal grand jury indicted three men in Albuquerque, N.M., on federal hate crime charges related to a racially-motivated assault of a 22-year-old man of Navajo descent who has a significant cognitive impairment. The three men have been charged with one count of conspiracy and one count of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act that was enacted in October, 2009. The indictment includes a charge that the defendants took advantage of the victim’s developmental disability to induce him to make a cell phone video in which he purportedly consents to have his skin burned with a heated metal hanger. To read more see