Hate Crimes: Criminal Law & Identity Politics

By James B. Jacobs; Kimberly Potter | Go to book overview

To take another example, Virginia's reporting statute mandates "the collection and analysis of information on terrorist acts and groups and individuals carrying out such acts." Terrorist acts are defined as:

(i) a criminal act committed against a person or his property with the specific intent of instilling fear or intimidation in the individual against whom the act is perpetrated because of race, religion or ethnic origin or which is committed for the purpose of restraining that person from exercising his rights under the Constitution or laws of this Commonwealth or of the United States, (ii) any illegal act directed against any persons or their property because of those persons' race, religion or national origin, and (iii) all other incidents, as determined by law-enforcement authorities, intended to intimidate or harass any individual or group because of race, religion or national origin. 61

In Virginia, "gay-bashing" is a hate crime for federal reporting purposes, but not for state reporting purposes.


Conclusion

In the mid- 1980s, Congress and a majority of state legislatures passed hate crime laws that do not criminalize previously noncriminal behavior, but enhance punishment for conduct that was already a crime. The well-known federal criminal civil rights statutes are often assumed to be the model for these new laws, but they are quite different. They do not recriminalize prohibited behavior, enhance sentences, or designate a finite fist of prejudices. They protect the federal, constitutional, and statutory rights of all citizens by making it a criminal offense to interfere with those rights. They provide federal insurance that crime will be prosecuted if state and local law enforcement authorities default in carrying out their responsibilities.

There are significant differences in the ways that federal and state legislatures define hate crimes. 62 A number of states, following the ADL's lead, treat hate crime as a low-level offense, such as intimidation or harassment. Other states have more general hate crime laws and sentence enhancements that mandate higher sentences for most or all crimes when motivated by prejudice. The statutes also differ as to which prejudices transform ordinary crime into hate crime and as to whether those prejudices must be manifest in the criminal conduct itself or can be proved by evidence concerning the defendant's beliefs, opinion, and character. The diversity of hate crime laws means that we cannot assume that people are talking about the same thing when they discuss "hate crime" or that

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Hate Crimes: Criminal Law & Identity Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • 1 - Introduction 3
  • 2 - What is Hate Crime? 11
  • Conclusion 27
  • 3 - Hate Crime Laws 29
  • Conclusion 42
  • 4 - Social Construction of a Hate Crime Epidemic 45
  • Conclusion 63
  • 5 - The Politics of Hate Crime Laws 65
  • Conclusion 77
  • 6 - Justification for Hate Crime Laws 79
  • Conclusion 90
  • 7 - Enforcing Hate Crime Laws 92
  • Conclusion 109
  • 8 - Hate Speech, Hate Crime, and the Constitution 111
  • Conclusion 128
  • 9 - Identity Politics and Hate Crimes 130
  • Conclusion 144
  • 10 - Policy Recommendations 145
  • Notes 155
  • Bibliography 187
  • Table of Cases 199
  • Index 201
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