Day in Washington #13 – Hate Crimes Update

Day in Washington- The Disability Policy Podcast explores and discusses various aspects of disability policy. Each episode will cover a specific issue within disability, and/or a disability-related news article. These 8-10 minute podcasts offer an easy to understand introduction to disability policy and resources for those interested in further study. You can find the text of each podcast in the comments.  If you have difficulty downloading the podcast, please right-click and save it to your computer for playback.

Episode Summary:

This week's podcast is an update on Hate Crimes legislation as it relates to disability, but also covers a recent Los Angeles Times article that supports the elimination of “disability” from Hate Crimes legislation.   As an additional piece of information, the Matthew Shepherd Hate Crimes bill (S. 1105) , is expected to go to the  floor this week.

Audio File:  Day in Washington Podcast #13 – Hate Crimes Update and Comments on L.A. Times Editorial

Show Notes

– Introduction, Date of Podcast

– Hate Crimes Legislation Update

– L.A. Times Article

– Information from Long Island disability “hate crime”

– Closing and Contact information

– Disclaimer


Day in Washington Podcast #2 (Hate Crimes)

L.A. Times Editorial – Narrow the Hate Crimes Act

(If you cannot access the editorial directly at the L.A. Times site above, a copy of the editorial is also available at:

ABC Long Island Article – Teens Sentenced in Bowling Alley Sodomy – Convicted of sexually assaulting disabled handyman with plumbing snake

1 comment for “Day in Washington #13 – Hate Crimes Update

  1. Day
    November 14, 2007 at 3:30 am

    Day in Washington Podcast #13 (November 5, 2007)


    Welcome to a Day in Washington. Day in Washington is your disability policy podcast covering legislative issues of interest to the disability community. We also spotlight specific bills and other related news articles. I'm your host, Day Al-Mohamed working to make sure you stay informed. This is Podcast #13 for November 5, 2007.

    This week's podcast is an update on Hate Crime legislation.

    On September 27, 2007 the Senate voted on the Mathew Shephard Hate Crime Act. We just won the Senate cloture vote on the hate crimes legislation, 60-39. Seconds later, the Senate voted by voice vote to add the Kennedy-Smith hate crimes amendment to the Department of Defense authorization bill.

    On October 29, barely a month later the Los Angeles Times carried an editorial titled, “Narrow the hate crimes act” stating that “By including the disabled in the Matthew Shepard hate-crimes bill, the authors went from sensible to extreme.”

    The author of the editorial states that he (or she) finds it “hard to imagine” that acts of vilence or intimidation could be motivated by hatred towards people with disabilties.

    I am deeply disappointed in the L.A. Times. I expected better and more thorough review of what is a significant concern to the disability community. What the author and indeed many members of the general public fail to take into consideration is how very few crimes against people with disabilities are ever: 1. Reported 2. Prosecuted and 3. Prosecuted as a hate crime.

    For example, if a rapist is never convicted of his crime because the victim has a disability and is not considered a credible witness in court, he will not be prosecuted. If the perpetrator is a caregiver or family member, acknowledgement of a crime is even more difficult.

    The reality is that people with disabilities often go unheard and ignored in America’s criminal justice system. People with intellectual disabilities often obtain little or not advocacy once they become a victim of a crime, perhaps due to the small amount of training and education that people in the intellectual disabilities field have regarding criminal justice issues AND the small amount of training many professionals in the police and legal professions have about people with disabilities in general.

    Since the L.A. Times is putting forward a statistic, let me respond with one of my own. From researchers who reviewed the literature regarding vicitmization and people with developmental disabilities, they found that they are 4 to 10 times more likely to be victimized than are people without disabilities.

    And, as I mentioned in my previous podcast on Hate Crime (see resources section for the link), the first ever hate crime taken into the court system in the United States and successfully prosectued never even showed up on the FBI statistics measuring hate crimes.

    The L.A. Times article seems to indicated that people with disabilities may be victims of crimes, but it isn’t the same as those crimes perpetrated against gays and lesbians, it isn’t the same as those crimes against ethnic and racial minorities.

    Less than a week prior to the L.A. Times editorial there was a small article about a sentencing in Long Island for two teenagers who had plead guilty to sexually assaulting a developmentally disabled handyman.

    The two teens attacked a 22-year old man with a developmental disability in a bathroom at a bowling alley. One held him down, while the other sodomized him with a plumbing snake. He was later found on the floor, bleeding with severe internal injuries. He had to undergo surgery to remove the plumbing tool.

    That sounds a lot like hate to me. One of the teenagers was charged with first-degree assault and the other with attempted predatory sexual assault and aggravated sexual abuse. So…this was not “officially” a hate crime, and therefore would not show up in the FBI’s hate crime center statistics. If this isn’t a hate crime against a person with a disability, what would be a hate crime?

    Even the family recognizes that this is more than just an assault. The victim’s mother spoke on behalf of her family: “This crime was one of hate, hate for people who are different. We feel sorry for anyone who doesn’t get the chance to know a special person like our son because your life would be richer for it…You have not only affected your lives and his, you have affected so many others.”

    Although the FBI statistics show that less than 1% of crimes reflect bias against people with disabilities, a simple Internet search will bring forward pages and pages of media articles describing attacks not so very different as to the one that took place in Long Island.

    Regardless of whether a crime is defined as a hate crime or not, what is so frustrating is the perception that people with disabilities are individuals to be pitied, and that somehow exempts them from hate and hate crimes. It is absurd, but it is a pervasive belief. And what is so frightening about this belief, is that this ignorance, this assumption is leaving people with disabilities to be assaulted, to be raped and to be killed with no real consequences to their attackers.


    And that is it for this week's edition of Day in Washington. Please feel free to contact me at regarding comments or suggestions. I'd love to hear from you, but for now, this is your host, Day reminding you to stay well and stay informed.


    Music for this podcast was provided by the podsafe music network @ The music was composed and performed by 2012 and can be found at

    Any opinions and perspectives expressed in this podcast should not be taken as the official stance of any group or organization affiliated with the host. In addition, none of the facts, data, or grammar have been checked for accuracy.

    Thank you for listening.

Comments are closed.