The U.S. Justice Department brought more federal hate crimes cases this year than in any year since 2001, and an Obama administration official said Thursday he was shocked by the drop-off in prosecutions during the Bush years.
Twenty-five hate crime cases were filed for the budget year that ended in September, a period that encompassed most of President Barack Obama’s first year in office and the last few months of the Bush administration.
In 2001, there were 31 such cases filed. The number fell to a low of 12 in 2006, before starting to rise again, reaching 23 in 2008.
Speaking to reporters, Perez [said Tom Perez, head of the Justice Department’s civil rights divisions] noted the number of hate crimes did not fall significantly during that period, but refused to say why he thought the federal prosecutions of such cases dropped.
Democrats harshly criticized the civil rights division during George W. Bush’s presidency, saying lawyers there were not investigating aggressively hate crimes, housing and employment discrimination or police misconduct cases.