Hate Crimes in America Essay

America is the land of the free, a nation in which any person from any walk of life should be able to come and live in peace, walk down any street in any neighborhood unmolested, something hatred will not allow. Hate-crimes in America come in many colors, races, and religions. One thing, which is certain, no one race color or religion is more hateful for such crimes than the other. Many hate-crimes just seem to be hidden more from view than others, and even interpreted so as not to be a hate crime.

According to the Office of Justice Programs, hate-crimes, do not just cause, physical injuries to its victims, the damages to the victims are far reaching, inasmuch as they cause, psychological, and emotional damage to the victims. Fear and humiliation go hand-in-hand with hate-crimes and can also endanger lives of innocent citizens when not properly addressed. Hate- crime offenders commit all types of crime depending, on what motivates the offender. Offenders usually provide evidence that hate prompted their actions, regardless of whether it was a violent crime or even a crime against property. A victims, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or race can all play a part in hate crimes. The “Office of Justice Programs Fact Sheet” (2011) website

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As of December 2011, 45 States currently provide statistics for hate crimes that differ in categorization of crimes, and protected groups, including a difference in penalties. However, varying statutes across the 45 states make data collection hard to estimate the presence of hate crimes accurately. What Congress did, was to pass the “Hate-Crimes and Statistics Act” in 1990, allowing the Justice Department to gather data on hate crimes. The “Office of Justice Programs Fact Sheet” (2011) website

“The Office of Justice Programs”, consist of several agencies, such as the “Bureau of Justice Assistance” (BJA). This agency supports prosecutors and police in response to hate crimes and also funds numerous anti-hate projects. Another agency is the “National Institute of Justice” (NIJ). Their work was responsible for finding gaps in the research of hate-crimes and also aided in the creation of a federal repository for hate-crime information, to help identify and address issues of inconsistencies in data collection. One more agency is the “Bureau of Justice Statistics” (BJS), which is responsible for funding “The National Crime Victimization Survey the primary source of information regarding criminal victimization nationally.” (“LCCR Education Fund, 2009”).

“Hate Crimes in America 2009” (The Leadership Conference 2009 p.1) Hate has a face, a human face. There was no shortage of information regarding hate-crimes in America. “The Leadership Conference, the nations, premier civil, and human rights coalition,” (The Leadership Conference June, 2009 p. 1) have identified hate crimes. The Leadership Conference showed Hate-crimes as crimes against African Americans, Hispanics, Jews, Asian Pacific Americans, Arab Americans, Muslims, Sikhs, Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual, Transgender, Individuals with Disabilities, Women, and Juveniles. (“LCCR Education Fund”, 2009).

As debates continue about what is or is not a hate-crime, the scope of the hate crime problem continues to rise according to The Leadership Conference hate-crimes incidents against Hispanics has risen from 426 in 2003, to 595 by 2007. Hate-crimes involving other groups, such as religious, racial, or ethnic groups have failed to increase and in some cases have decreased during the same time span. This increase in hate-crime incidents involving Hispanics seems to be in direct correlation with heated debates over immigration reform. (“LCCR Education Fund”, 2009 p.26).

In 2008 offenders of hate crimes by racial breakdown for 7,783 reported incidents as reported by The Federal Bureau of Investigation are as follows: (1) White offenders account for 62.4% of the known incidents. (2) Black offenders account for 18.5% of the known incidents. (3) A combination of different races accounted for 7.3% of the known incidents. (4) Native Americans/Alaskan Natives account for 1.0% of the known incidents.

(5) Asian/Pacific Islander account for 0.7% of the known incidents. (6) Unknown races accounted for 10.2% of the known incidents. The “Offenders – Hate Crime Statistics, 2009” (2009) website

In 2010 statistics showed that nearly half 47.3% of hate-crimes, were reported as racially motivated, 20% motivated because of religion 19.3% motivated due to sexual orientation and 12.8% were motivated due to ethnicity whereas 0.6% motivated due to disability. Data regarding Hate-crimes comes from two main sources “The Federal Bureau of investigation (FBI) Uniform Crime Reporting Program and the bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)”. Accurate estimates remain elusive. Unfortunately, data collected by each agency, differs making assessing the prevalence of hate crimes, difficult to predict accurately. (“Hate Crimes In America: The Debate Continues”, 2007).

Despite the fact that America; has its first African American President, African Americans still seem to be frequent victims of hate-crimes. Hispanics and undocumented immigrants have risen to be by far, one of the easiest targets of hate crimes. “A report conducted by the “Southern Poverty Law Center” (SPLC) contends these incidents against Hispanics increased in 2010 for the second year. A recent study showed anti-Latino hate-crimes have risen, over the last decade most believe their numbers to be higher than reported. Mark Potok, a spokesman for the SPLC, said to The Huffington Post in an interview, one thing to know is Latinos and undocumented immigrants are the least likely to go to the police. Undocumented immigrants fear deportation so reporting a crime against them is out of the question. The findings of a “congressionally-mandated study by the National Institute of Justice,” seems to suggest that anti Latino hate-crimes, has risen more than other hate-crimes from 2004 to 2008. The study showed that the highest increases in Hispanic hate crimes happened in California and Texas far more than any other state. (“Anti-Latino Hate Crimes Rise As Immigration Debate Intensifies”, 2012).

During the years from 2003 to 2007, the hate-crimes that have been reported against Hispanics: had an increase of almost 40%. The numbers went from 426 to 595 a year, from 2003 to 2007. In 2007, out of all the reported hate-crimes, in the United States: 7.8% have been committed against Hispanics. Of the bias motivated hate-crimes based on victims, ethnicity or nationality in 2007 60% were against Hispanics, which were up 50% from 2003. The increases in Hispanic hate-crimes appear to be in direct correlation with ongoing Immigration reform in the United States and increasing anti-immigration rhetoric. (“Anti-Latino Hate Crimes Rise As Immigration Debate Intensifies”, 2012).

There is only one state (Wyoming), which does not have laws specific to hate-crime. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the other states have specific hate-crime laws, which vary from state to state. While there is no legal definition for hate-crime nearly all states use race, religion, or ethnicity, as a means to identify protected groups. Some characteristics are not included. According to The Hate Crimes in America: The Debate Continues:

(See chart. States With Laws for Protected Groups.)

Hate-crime laws may define

1. Groups that are protected (e.g., religion, race, or ethnicity, gender, disability, and sexual orientation).

2. A range of predicate or underlying crimes (e.g., assault).

3. A requirement that hate or bias motivated the offence.

4. Penalty enhancements.

5. Provisions for civil remedies.

6. Requirements for data collection.

7. Training requirements for law enforcement personnel. The “Hate Crimes In America: The Debate Continues” (2007) website

A 1994 law required longer sentences for Federal Hate crimes while most states allow penalties and enhancements for hate-crimes. Only half have statutes for collecting hate-crime data, and only 12 states have statutes addressing law enforcement training to deal with hate-crimes. Other responses by law enforcement were to establish hate-crime units. Many jurisdictions have adopted this plan and implemented them in their police departments while some states have increased; officer training regarding hare-crimes. Currently 45 states have hate-crime laws protecting ethnicity, race, and religion, 31 states have laws protecting gender, 30 include disability, 27 have laws; protecting sexual orientation. 14 states have laws protecting age, while seven have laws protecting political affiliation. Reports show what motivates hate-crimes, and race; is in the top spot with; 55.4% of all hate-crime incidents, followed by association; at 30.7%, ethnicity at 28.7%, sexual orientation at 18%, perceived characteristic with 13.7%, religion at 12.9%, and disability with 11.2%. The “Hate Crimes In America: The Debate Continues” (2007) website

At first Americans might expect to learn that; the term “Hate-Crime” came from some politician, or law maker trying to gain attention for him or herself. That was this student’s first guess. “The term “hate-crime” was coined back in the 1980’s by journalist and policy advocates who were attempting to describe a series of incidents directed at, African Americans, Jews, and Asians.” The Federal Bureau of Investigation also refers to hate crimes as a bias crime.

References:

The “Hate Crimes In America: The Debate Continues” (2007) website

The Leadership Conference. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.civilrights.org/publications/hatecrimes/

LCCR Education Fund. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.civilrights.org

Offenders – Hate crime statistics, 2009. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.2.fbi.go/ucr/hc2008/offenders.html

Confronting the New Faces of Hate: Hate Crimes in America. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.civilrights.org/publications/hatecrimes/

Office of Justice Programs Fact Sheet. (2011). Retrieved from http://ojp.gov/newsroom/factsheet/ojpfs_hatecrimeshtml

Hate Crimes in America: The Debate Continues. (2007). Retrieved from http://www.nij.gov/journals/257/hate-crime.html

Anti-Latino Hate Crimes Rise As Immigratiom Debate Intensifies. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/17/antilatino-hate-crime-rise-immigration/