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Federalizing Hate Crime Laws

A rash of hate crimes such as last year's murder of a gay student in Wyoming - where there are no hate crime laws - has spurred the U.S. Congress to consider making more hate crimes punishable at the federal level.

For three years, CBS News Correspondent Phil Jones reports, Marcia Price was tormented by a racist neighbor. She says she'd been chased with a shovel and had received death threats when, "Finally one day I said, 'Why are you doing this to us?' and he said, 'Because you are a nigger and I hate niggers."

Price's neighbor was prosecuted in criminal court, where he was found guilty of hate crimes and sentenced to jail for 18 months. Some say Price was lucky; Maryland is one of the few states that actually enforces its race crime laws. According to the National Organization of Women's Kim Gandy, "Many states are not prosecuting hate crimes, and that's an important reason for hate crimes to be federalized."

But critics are saying there are too many federal crimes already. From car jacking, to drive-by shootings, to even animal abuse, many of the federal rules duplicate existing state laws. Attorney Bill Taylor is one critic who feels that enforcing these laws overburdens the government and costs more money for taxpayers.

"Historically it's the state's responsibility to deal with what we now call street crime or violent crime and the federal government's responsibility to deal with those things which got away from street crime," Taylor explains.

Those federal responsibilities include international crimes like terrorism or espionage. But local crime victims like Marcia Price say it's the government's responsibility, even at the cost of having too many laws, not to overlook what's happening close to home.

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