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Hate Crime in America: The Debate Continues

NCJ Number
National Institute of Justice Journal Issue: 257 Dated: June 2007 Pages: 8-13
Date Published
June 2007
6 pages
Publication Series
This article discusses the current state of hate crime research and legislation in America and identifies avenues for future research.
The analysis of hate crime legislation indicates that there are large differences from State to State, and on the Federal level, concerning how to define and prosecute hate crimes. One of the most problematic issues in this area is the lack of a national consensus on whether hate crime should be considered a separate class of crime. Indeed, some States have struck down hate crime legislation on the grounds that the statutes are too broad or too vague. And while nonprofit and community-based organizations have thrown their hat into the arena in terms of hate crime prevention programming, there have been no systematic evaluations of whether such prevention programming actually works. Current research on hate crime draws largely on national crime victimization surveys, which have so far indicated that racism is the most common motivation behind hate crime and that African-Americans are targeted twice as often as Caucasians for hate crime victimization. Other researchers have identified four major categories of hate crime motivation--thrilling-seeking, defensive, retaliatory, and mission--but there has been no attempt to validate or replicate this typology of hate crime offenders. Suggestions for future research regarding hate crime fall into the following areas: (1) develop a method for accurately measuring the prevalence of hate crime; (2) evaluate the impact of hate crime legislation on deterrence, punishment, enforcement, training, and reporting; (3) identify the motivations behind hate crime and develop an empirically-based offender typology; (4) investigate how membership or affiliation with hate groups affects the commission of crime; (5) study the effect of hate crime on victims and communities; and (6) evaluate programs designed to prevent and respond to hate crime and to assist hate crime victims. It is also recommended that a Federal central repository of hate crime information be developed. Tables, notes

Date Published: June 1, 2007