Civil Rights Prosecution

To reduce police and other official criminal misconduct, to reduce violent activity by private citizens (including organized hate groups) against others because of their race, religion, national origin, or sex, which interferes with the Federal and constitutional rights of individuals, (including church
arson); and to curtail acts of modern-day slavery and violent interference with access to reproductive health care.
Examples of Funded Projects

See Program Accomplishments.

Agency - Department of Justice

The Department of Justice enforces the law and defends the interest of the United States, ensuring public safety against threats foreign and domestic; providing Federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; seeking just punishment for those guilty of unlawful pursuits; and ensuring fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.

Office - Local U. S. Attorney's Office and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Program Accomplishments

During fiscal year 2007, the Criminal Section filed a total of 93 cases charging 193 defendants in cases involving official misconduct, racial violence/hate crimes, human trafficking, church burnings, and the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE). A total of 189 defendants, including some defendants charged in prior years, were successfully prosecuted.

Uses and Use Restrictions

The Section prosecutes cases of national significance involving the deprivation of personal liberties which either cannot be, or are not, sufficiently addressed by State or local authorities.

Its jurisdiction includes acts of racial violence, misconduct by local, State, or Federal law enforcement officials, violations of the peonage and involuntary servitude statutes that protect migrant workers and others held in bondage and violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

The Section ensures that complaints are reviewed on a timely basis for investigation and potential prosecution.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

All persons regardless of citizenship or immigration status.

Beneficiary Eligibility

All persons regardless of citizenship or immigration status.


Individuals alleging deprivation of their civil rights should provide information describing the sequence of events (including the type of force or coercion involved), the date of the incident, the names of identifiable perpetrators, involved law enforcement officers and witnesses, a description of any physical injuries and medical treatment, if needed, and the nature of work being forced (if applicable).

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination


This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.


Application Procedures

Contact the Criminal Section, Civil Rights Division directly, the local office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the local U.S. Attorney's Office, or the national toll-free complaint line for worker exploitation (1-888-428-7581).

Award Procedures

Complaints alleging deprivation of civil rights are reviewed and, in those cases involving complaints of official abuse that are investigated by the FBI, the individual is notified in writing of the outcome of that review, whether it be to decline investigation or prosecution or to seek an indictment.


The federal criminal civil rights statutes generally have a five year statute of limitations from the date of the incident, except in cases involving an intentional killing (generally not bound by the statute of limitations) or religious interference incidents (seven year statute of limitations).


18 U.S.C. 241, 242, 245, 247, 248, 1581, 1583, 1584, 1589, 1590, 1592; 1594; 42 U.S.C. 3631.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Initial complaints that are reviewed and deemed inappropriate for investigation are generally reviewed within 3 months of their being received. Investigated complaints in which prosecution is sought are usually resolved within a year of the indictment.


If new information, not considered by the Section in its original review of complaints for investigation and prosecution, is made available within the applicable statute of limitations, the Section will review the complaint again in light of that new information.


Not applicable.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Not applicable.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Not applicable.

Post Assistance Requirements


Not applicable.


Not applicable.


Not applicable.

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Salaries and Expenses) FY 07 est $13,140,000; FY 08 est $13,255,000; and FY 09 est $13,953,000.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

Not applicable.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

U.S. Attorneys' Manual, Title 8, Chapter 3 Sentencing Guidelines; Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

Local U.S. Attorney's Office and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Headquarters Office

Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Criminal Section, Washington, DC 20530. Telephone: (202) 514-3204. Contact: Office of Public Affairs. Telephone: (Voice) (202) 514-2007; (TDD) (202) 514-1888.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

Each statute has elements of the offense that must be met in order for there to be Federal jurisdiction. Furthermore, there must be evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a violation occurred. Official misconduct cases: (1) the defendant must have been acting under color of the law, that is, while using or misusing power possessed by reason of the law (Private citizens jointly engaged with State officials, who are themselves acting under color of the law, in prohibited activity, are acting under color of law for purposes of Section 242.); (2) the conduct of the defendant must have deprived the victim of some right secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States; and (3) there must have been an intent on the part of the defendant willfully to subject the victim to the deprivation of the right described above. Racial violence cases: (1) the defendant must have acted with force or the threat of force; (2) the defendant must have injured, intimidated, or interfered with or attempted to injure, intimidate or interfere with the victim; (3) the defendant must have acted because of the victim's race, color, religion or national origin and because the victim was participating or engaged in a federally protected activity (as enumerated in 18 U.S.C. 245 (b)(2)(A) through (F)) and 42 U.S.C. 3631; and (4) finally, the defendant must have acted willfully. Human trafficking/ involuntary servitude cases: (1) a person must be made to work against his will by the defendant; (2) the period of involuntary servitude must be for a "term"; (3) the defendant must have caused the involuntary servitude by his acts; and (4) the defendant must have intended to cause involuntary service by his acts. Forced labor: (1) defendant did, or attempted to, provide or obtain the labor or services of a person, (2) defendants used either threats of serious harm to, or physical restraint against, that person or another person; used a scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause the person to believe that non-performance would result in serious harm to, or physical restraint against, that person or another person; or abused or threatened abuse of the law or legal process, and (3) defendant acted knowingly. Reproductive health clinic access cases: (1) facility providing reproductive health services; (2) defendant used force, threat of force, or physical obstruction; (3) defendant intended or attempted to injure, intimidate, or interfere with; and (4) someone providing or obtaining reproductive health services.

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