Hate Crime: It's Worse Than We Thought | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Hate Crime: It's Worse Than We Thought

According to the FBI's most recent National Crime Victimization Survey, generally regarded as the most accurate national crime report, a crime is between 19 and 31 times more likely to be bias-motivated than the FBI's Hate Crime Index has traditionally suggested.

picThe Southern Poverty Law Center reports:

Hate crime statistics published by the FBI since 1992, based on voluntary reports from law enforcement agencies around the country, have shown annual totals of about 6,000 to 10,000, depending on the year. But the new report, Hate Crimes Reported by Victims and Police, found an average annual total of 191,000 hate crimes. That means the real level of hate crime runs between 19 and 31 times higher than the numbers that have been officially reported for almost 15 years ...

The new report, compiled by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and published this month, was based on an analysis of three-and-a-half years of detailed survey data from the biannual National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). The NCVS raw data comes from interviews with almost 80,000 statistically representative people and is the most accurate crime survey extant.

The report, which inferred hate motivation from the words and symbols used by the offender, found that just 44 percent of hate crimes are reported to police. Other hate crimes don't make it into FBI statistics for an array of reasons: police may fail to record some as hate crimes; their departments may not report hate crime statistics to state officials; and those officials may not accurately report to the FBI.

Previous Comments

ID
103884
Comment

This may sound bad... but how are they defining hate crime?

Author
Ironghost
Date
2005-12-12T23:45:20-06:00
ID
103885
Comment

It's not a bad question at all. You can find the actual report here. Excerpt: The NCVS definition requires that corroborating evidence of hate motivation must be present at the incident: * the offender used derogatory language * the offender left hate symbols, or * the police confirmed that a hate crime had taken place.

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-12-13T01:33:14-06:00
ID
103886
Comment

(The five categories listed, BTW, are race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and disability.)

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-12-13T01:40:30-06:00
ID
103887
Comment

Tom, in Mississippi, sexual orientation would not be used to define a hate crime. It's not part of the laws. I've heard some murmurs that two have occurred in the state since Fall began.

Author
kaust
Date
2005-12-13T08:21:19-06:00
ID
103888
Comment

I would believe it'd still be harassment, however.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2005-12-13T10:07:53-06:00
ID
103889
Comment

I'd be astonished if there were only two. This sort of thing kind of cuts to the heart of why victim-based data (as per the new report) is more reliable than law enforcement based data (as per the old report), even though the old criteria was supposed to include reporting all hate crimes whether they are recognized as such under state law or not. Police officers are overworked as is, and in red states especially (where "Every crime is a hate crime" has moved from being a mere cliche to almost being a state motto), who would spend the extra time assembling hate crime statistics? And if there is someone quietly working on this, how would she possibly be provided with all of the necessary data? And I can already anticipate problems with officers not caring about sexual orientation based hate crimes (maybe even committing them), or not realizing, or choosing not to realize, that religion or disability have any hate crime status. If the ACLU accounts can be believed, the FBI itself was committing religion-based hate crimes on a regular basis in the immediate wake of 9/11; harassment, threats of violence, kidnapping and false arrest, et. al. don't magically become kosher just because the offender is a law enforcement professional, but it's highly unlikely that anyone would call the police to report harassment from the FBI, or from other police, so that sort of thing (which is depressingly common) probably wouldn't show up in either study. And we already know that threats, harassment, et. al. are unlikely to be reported, especially in communities where law enforcement is seen as hostile to the target group. All in all: As bad as it looks under the new survey, it's actually probably worse than that. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-12-13T10:14:33-06:00

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