Bias and Hate Crimes

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Given that our society has such a dense population of different races, ethnicities, religions and sexual orientations, it is important to understand both the goals and challenges of policing and dealing with hate and bias crimes. Considering that since the beginning stages of immigration we have tried to support successful assimilation, hate and bias crimes create a huge barrier. Hate and bias crimes “occur when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her membership in a certain social group, usually defined by race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, gender identity, or political affiliation” ( Not only is it difficult for our society to identify this sort of crime, but it is also extremely hard to enact comprehensive laws governing the way police and society as a whole should handle these crimes. An important problem associated with bias and hate crimes is distinguishing them from other “everyday” crimes; often, the terms are used interchangeably. Law enforcement as well as the general public should understand that bias and hate crimes are in many ways the same crimes that are committed everyday, but that hate and bias crimes are committed intentionally against a person because of a certain bias and are usually much more violent. Furthermore, deciding how offenders should be identified and punished is sometimes problematic “because motivation is subjective, [and] it is often difficult for police officers to determine whether an offense was motivated by bias” (Katz, pg 301) Our constitution, as well as the laws which followed it, were written to ensure that “every citizen, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, economic status, background, age, or culture [receives] the highest level of service available and equal treatment under the law” ( Yet, hate and bias crimes have become such a major issue in our country that goals like high service and...
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