Oregon Senate Bill 577 | TITLE: Relating to bias crimes; and declaring
an emergency. TAGLINE: Renames crime of intimidation as bias crime.
“Our hate crime laws are sorely out of date and were written decades ago,” said Zakir Khan, board chair of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “This update is needed to provide justice to so many survivors.”
The move responds to an uptick in reported hate crimes in the past few years. FBI data shows that hate crimes have increased in Oregon by 40% from 2016 to 2017 while arrests and convictions for those crimes have gone down.
But that data likely underestimates the true number of hate crimes. Many local law enforcement agencies don't report bias crimes to the FBI or say that none have occurred.
The new law encourages victim-focused responses to allegation of hate crimes and more accurate data collection. Law enforcement must now record and respond to all hateful incidents, even if they don’t technically rise to the level of a crime.