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S. 909 (111th): Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Apr 28, 2009.

Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act - Adopts the definition of "hate crime" as set forth in the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (i.e., a crime in which the defendant intentionally selects a victim or, in the case of a property crime, the property that is the object of the crime because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person).

Authorizes the Attorney General to: (1) provide state, local, or tribal law enforcement agencies with technical, forensic, prosecutorial, or other assistance in the investigation or prosecution of violent crimes and hate crimes; and (2) award grants to assist such agencies with the extraordinary expenses associated with the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes.

Authorizes the Office of Justice Programs to award grants to state, local, or tribal programs designed to combat hate crimes committed by juveniles.

Authorizes appropriations to the Department of Justice (DOJ), including the Community Relations Service, for FY2010-FY2012 to prevent and respond to hate crime acts.

Amends the federal criminal code to prohibit willfully causing bodily injury to any person because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of such person.

Amends the Hate Crimes Statistics Act to expand data collection and reporting requirements under such Act to include: (1) crimes manifesting prejudice based on gender and gender identity; and (2) hate crimes committed by and against juveniles.

Declares that nothing in this Act shall be construed to prohibit the exercise of constitutionally-protected free speech.