January 5 marks the first day of the California Legislative Session and Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra (D-San Fernando Valley) put forth a bill that would require the names of people convicted of hate violence, and their crimes, to be made public via a California Hate Crimes Registry.
The identity of the victims would remain confidential.
If Assembly Bill 39, is made into law it would require the Department of Justice to create and maintain a database of people convicted of crimes against others motivated by race, religion, ethnicity, handicap, gender, or sexual orientation.
“We have witnessed an alarming spike in hate crimes in the days and weeks following the presidential election and a double-digit increase in hate crimes reported to California law enforcement in 2015,” said Bocanegra. “These crimes divide communities, and it is imperative that California send a message that intolerance has no place in our communities.”
The current law only requires local law enforcement to gather their hate crime reports and submit them annually to the California Department of Justice. This collection of data includes the number of hate crimes committed, how they were executed, the number of suspects and their victims.
The report also includes the number of cases referred to prosecutors and the disposition of those cases.
Recent data compiled by the Department of Justice shows a significant spike in the number of hate crimes committed in California:
- Total hate crime incidents increased in California by 10.42% in 2015;
- Hate crime incidents involving a religious bias increased 49.6% in 2015;
- Hate crime incidents involving a Hispanic/Latino bias increased 35% in 2015; and,
- The number of victims of reported hate crime incidents increased 10.39% in 2015.
Assemblyman Bocanegra said in a statement after he introduced AB 39 that the Registry would be an important safety tool to help protect against hate crimes and, “significantly reduce hate crimes in California. In the coming months, I will work diligently to bring together Democrats and Republicans, law enforcement and victims’ rights groups, to take immediate steps send a clear message to perpetrators that violence rooted in bigotry and bias will not be tolerated in California.”
The U.S. Department of Justice uses a similiar database called The National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW), which allows concerned citizens to search the database for sex offenders by name, address and city.