There has been a marked decline in federal enforcement of civil rights laws, fair housing, and hate crimes since 1999, according to a report by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. The study found that the number of times federal investigative agencies recommended prosecution in civil rights cases has fallen by more than one-third, from more than 3,000 in 1999 to just more than 1,900 in 2003. Federal court data also show the government has sought fewer civil sanctions against civil rights violators. Complaint levels remained level during that time, about 12,000 complaints filed annually. The study's co-author, David Burnhan of Trac, said:
"Collectively, some violators of the civil rights laws are not being dealt with by the government. They've declined by a huge number of cases. This trend, we think, is significant."
Burnham notes that the Department of Justice focused additional resources on terrorism after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. However, most other DOJ criminal prosecutions have increased since that time, with almost 100,000 prosecutions taking place in 2003. Civil rights and environmental prosecutions were the only types of cases that decreased in that time.