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).


· 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.


· 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.


· 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).


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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