What are the Aggregate Patterns of Hate Crime in the U.S.?

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August 6, 1999

· The quality of official statistics has been uneven, but is improving.

· An unusually high number of reported crimes come from areas of the country in which hate crime politics have been strongest (e.g., 25 percent of reported offenses come from California).

Victims

· Reported offenses may reflect law enforcement officials stereotypes about "normal hate crime" as being primarily racial or religious in nature.

· The police are less likely to intepret crimes against the disabled as hate crimes (Waxman 1991).

· As their understanding of hate crime becomes more nuanced, law enforcement officials may be more likely to perceive of a wider array of circumstances as hate crimes.

· Hate crimes involving categories other than race and religion have steadily made up a larger portion of the total number of offenses.

· From 1991 to 1997, federal hate crime data indicate that hate crime most frequently occurs against blacks (around 40 percent).

· About 15 percent to 20 percent of hate crimes are committed against people targeted for their religious affiliation.

· Hate crimes perpetrated because of sexual orientation hover between 9 percent and 14 percent of the total number of hate crimes committed.

· Anti-Asian and Anti-Hispanic hate crimes make-up roughly 5 percent of reported offenses.

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· Hate crimes against Latinos are on the rise.

· In 1993, the first year federal hate crime statistics were reported, there were 472 anti-Hispanic incidents reported. The number increased to 516 in 1995 and 564 in 1996. In 1997, the last year reported, anti-Latino hate crimes exceeded 600 incidents (Associated Press, July 26).

· Hate crimes against the disabled and native Americans make-up less than one percent of the reported offenses.

· Gender-based hate crimes are not tabulated.

· According to the most recent data, hate crimes against blacks are most likely to occur as assault or intimidation (75 percent).

· Hate crimes against Jews tend to occur as property crimes (60 percent).

· Recent data suggest that hate crimes are more likely to occur as acts of intimidation (40 percent) than property damage or bodily injury.

Perpetrators

· Most hate crime perpetrators are not members of organized hate groups (Garafolo 1997, Martin 1996).

· Hate crime perpetrators tend to be young men acting in informal groups (Martin 1995).

· While hate crimes are perpetrated by individuals, typically they are expressed by groups (Levin and McDevitt, 1993).

References

Garofalo, James. 1987. "Hate Crime Victimization in the United States." in Pp. 134-145 Wesley Skogan and Arthur Lurigio. 1997. Victims of Crime. 2nd Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Levin, Jack and Jack McDevitt. 1993. Hate Crimes: The Rising Tide of Bigotry and Bloodshed. New York: Plenum Press.

Martin, Susan. 1995. "A cross-burning is not just an arson: Police social construction of hate crimes in Baltimore County." Criminology 33:303-326.

Martin, Susan. 1996. "Investigating Hate Crimes: Case Characteristics and Law Enforcement Responses." Justice Quarterly 13 (3): 455-480.

Waxman, Barbara Faye. 1991. "Hatred: The Unacknowledged Dimension in Violence Against Disabled People" Sexuality and Disability 9: 185-199.

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