Hate crime, also known as bias crime, is a criminal act committed against a person, property, or society which is motivated by the perpetrator's bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or ethnicity/national origin.
Congress enacted the Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990 on April 23 of that same year in response to growing national concern over crimes motivated by bias. The Act requires the Attorney General to "collect data about crimes that show evidence of prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity."
Graph Bias-motivated Offenses/Percent Distribution 2002
Bias motivation in hate crimes are most likely to be based off race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion. Ways to determine or detect if a crime is bias motivated is dependent upon "language or symbols used (racist tattoos, slurs, hate group symbols), severity and nature of attack, previous record of offender of similar incidents, absence of other motives, (money, relationship, etc) and perpetrators membership in a certain hate group." (UCSB, Hate Crime brochure)
In Barbara Perry's book, "In the Name of Hate" she quotes Benjamin Bowling commenting that an important consideration in defining hate crime is to look at hate crime as a process, rather than an event. (Perry, 2001) Bowling wishes to define the term "hate crime" in a way to give it "life" and meaning so many elements will be taken into account when attempting to describe hate crime.
The Anti-Defamation League addresses these topics in their hate training seminars:
* Understanding the importance of hate crimes training
* Organized hate groups - signs and symbols
* Perpetrator profiles
* Elements of a hate crime
* Criteria for determining a hate crime
* The impact of hate crimes on the community
* Initial response procedures
* Addressing the special needs of hate crime victims
* Interviewing procedures
* Reporting procedures
* Community relations resources
* Investigative strategies
* Common investigative and procedural mistakes
* Scenarios and role-playing
Since 1990, the FBI has been the primary source for national figures and statistics on hate crime offenses. Investigation and control of hate crimes start with the community affected and the officers sworn to protect that community. Even though there are laws in place that help deter hate crimes and protect victims, there are still questionable gaps in the law to be filled. I understand that no law can effectively prevent bigotry; however, hate crime violence can be fought by imposing stricter penalties upon those that commit these crimes. Expanding prosecutors' jurisdiction in appropriate cases and collecting more accurate data about hate motivated violence. "The 20th century saw major progress in outlawing discrimination, and most Americans today support integrated schools and neighborhoods, but stereotypes and unequal treatments persist, an atmosphere often exploited by hate groups." (www.tolerance.org)
Hate crime is normally prosecuted when a crime such as battery, assault, aggravated assault, criminal damage to property, criminal trespass to vehicle or property, looting, disorderly conduct or harassment by telephone occurs and a specific hate motive is established.
An important part of being able to investigate and prosecute hate crime is the need for it to be reported. As the text states, "Unwillingness to "come out" and be identified as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender (LGBT) by reporting a hate crime occurred is a valid reason for the underreporting of statistics." (Shusta, 2005) I feel there is a need for training in communities as well as law enforcement. Programs used to educate the police, schools, and citizens of the community about hate crimes helps create a safe...
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