Hate Crimes

The Federal Bureau of Investigation defines hate crime as "a criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin." Figures from he Bureau of Justice Statistics in the United States points to race as the major factor for hate crimes, followed by religion, sexual orientation and ethnicity.

Hate crime refers not only to violent conduct, but also to other forms of illegal conduct and victimization, such as destruction of property and harassment, to the use of words meant to offend. Any trace of bigoted motivation classifies a crime as a hate crime, even if other reasons played a role. Perpetrators may commit a crime out of prejudice or emotions. Children from an early age are living with particular prejudice and learn them through their friends, family, TV and newspapers. An offense may be committed not out of a personal hatred toward the victim, but for economic or conformist purposes. For example, a white person may attack someone who is black not because he hates the individual, but because his friends expect him to do so. A group of bias crimes are considered as defensive hate crimes. Victims of such crimes are people who are considered as challenging the workplace, neighborhood, or physical well-being of the perpetrator.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center's Klanwatch project, between 20,000 and 50,000 people are members of white supremacist groups in the United States Hate crime legislation has a long history in the United States with the first hate crime laws adopted after the Civil War ended in 1865. In 1978, California was the first state to pass state hate crime laws penalizing murder motivated by hatred based on race, religion, color, and national origin. In 2011, 45 states and the District of Columbia had statutes criminalizing bias crimes.

Beside legislation, other efforts to put an end to hate crime are victim support programs, education programs, investigation, prosecution, and prevention of hate crimes. Most states and big cities have developed hate crime initiatives backed by government criminal justice agencies. Hate crime units have been formed at municipal police departments in large urban areas, and police departments are often involved as members of State or regional hate crime task forces.

Italy, France, the UK, Sweden, Spain and Hungary have laws providing for penalty enhancement for crimes motivated by bias. Germany has no law penalizing hate crime, but hate speech is a criminal offense under German legislation. In June 1993 the United Nations World Conference on Human Rights adopted the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, recommending that governments around the world should take measures to fight intolerance and violence based on religion and other practices toward different minority groups.

In 2005 Human Rights First, formerly known as the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, carried out a survey among the 55 members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and established that 19 of all OSCE member states had adopted laws under which racist motives for crimes are to be considered an aggravating circumstance.

Hate crime legislation has drawn criticism. Critics admit that the number of hate crimes is rising, but they consider that such laws make sentences more severe on the basis of the motives of the perpetrator. This, critics claim, allow the government to interfere with freedom of expression and thought.

Hate Crimes: Selected full-text books and articles

Punishing Hate: Bias Crimes under American Law
Frederick M. Lawrence.
Harvard University Press, 2002
Scapegoats of September 11th: Hate Crimes and State Crimes in the War on Terror
Michael Welch.
Rutgers University Press, 2006
Hope-Fulfilling or Effectively Chilling? Reconciling the Hate Crimes Prevention Act with the First Amendment
Coker, Carter T.
Vanderbilt Law Review, Vol. 64, No. 1, January 2011
A Simple Model of Optimal Hate Crime Legislation
Gan, Li; Williams, Roberton C.,, III; Wiseman, Thomas.
Economic Inquiry, Vol. 49, No. 3, July 2011
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Evolving Federal Role in Bias Crime Law Enforcement and the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007
Lawrence, Frederick M.
Stanford Law & Policy Review, Vol. 19, No. 2, Spring 2008
Racial Disparities in Hate Crime Reporting
Zaykowski, Heather.
Violence and Victims, Vol. 25, No. 3, May 1, 2010
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Hate Crimes: Criminal Law & Identity Politics
James B. Jacobs; Kimberly Potter.
Oxford University Press, 2001
Is Telling Lawyer Jokes a Hate Crime? the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 Is Dangerous, Not Only on Its Own Terms, but Because of Its Role in the Culture Wars That Will Shape America for Generations to Come
Eidsmoe, John.
The New American, Vol. 23, No. 7, April 2, 2007
Enforcing Bias-Crime Laws without Bias: Evaluating the Disproportionate-Enforcement Critique
Lawrence, Frederick M.
Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. 66, No. 3, Summer 2003
Preventing Hate Crime and Profiling Hate Crime Offenders
Anderson, James F.; Dyson, Laronistine; Brooks, Willie, Jr.
The Western Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 26, No. 3, Fall 2002
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
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