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Questioning Bias: Validating a Bias Crime Victim Assessment Tool in California and New Jersey

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $498,893)

Research suggests that bias crime is more prevalent than is shown by official reported crime data, in part because law enforcement often fails to identify crimes as bias-motivated. Compared to similar offenses without bias motivation, bias crime also has more serious negative consequences for victims and communities. One fundamental barrier to victim identification is the lack of reliable means of determining bias crime victimization. The Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) proposes this study to develop and validate a Bias Crime Assessment Tool (BCAT) that can be used by schools, law enforcement and community organizations to improve victim identification among under-identified Hispanic, immigrant, youth and LGBT communities. The research will provide a sensitive and practical tool to improve bias crime victim identification and also help reduce barriers to reporting for victims. The results are expected to foster more effective victim identification and service provision, and improve bias crime data reporting, education, and institutional responses. Study participants will include bias crime and community experts, as well as over 600 youth and adult members of under-identified communities in Los Angeles and New Jersey. Vera will work in partnership with the County of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission, California State University-Los Angeles, the New Jersey Bias Crime Officers Association, and Rutgers University-Newark and New Brunswick. The research design uses an integrated, multi-method approach to investigate bias crime experiences in the study communities, develop a comprehensive assessment, and validate the assessment results through pilot-testing. To inform BCAT development, Vera will conduct 24 key informant interviews, hold 10-12 community and school-based focus groups, and survey approximately 600 diverse youth and adult participants about bias crime experiences in New Jersey and Los Angeles. Content will cover several dimensions of bias crime victimization. Vera then will design and pilot test the BCAT with a sub-sample of 200-300 potential victims who reported bias crimes or similar incidents. Interview and survey data will be analyzed to inform the BCAT development. After pilot testing, BCAT results will be statistically validated and accompanying guidelines developed and discussed with stakeholders. Products, Reports, and Data Archiving: The validated BCAT with accompanying Guidelines will be released in English and Spanish. Vera will also produce a research and policy brief. At least two papers based on study findings will be presented at academic conferences and submitted to peer-reviewed journals. Data from the survey will be submitted to the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data. This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law. ca/ncf
Date Created: September 15, 2015