Enforcing Hate Crime Laws
I hate these cases because they become real mysteries. . . . [E]verybody jumps on the bandwagon but nobody has the facts.
Detective John Leslie, New York City Police Department
Without doubt, most members of the community have an opinion of whether "bias- motivated" conduct should be criminalized or even prosecuted. It is the search for this opinion that presents the greatest challenge to the prosecutor.
Migdalia Maldonado, former assistant district attorney and hate crime prosecutor, Brooklyn, New York
FEDERAL, STATE, AND LOCAL hate crime laws were passed to satisfy political and symbolic needs, not to fill gaps in criminal law, sentencing law, or criminal procedure. Nevertheless, once these laws are on the books, police and prosecutors must decide how to enforce them. This chapter examines the challenges and enforcement dilemmas of hate crime laws for police, prosecutors, criminal courts, trial judges, juries, and sentencing judges. It also examines what little is known about how these laws are used, how often, and with what consequences.
In 1988, Abt Associates and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) released a joint report recommend-