Hate Crime

III. Hate Crime Statistics

At the national level, data on hate crimes come from two principal resources: the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program and the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). In addition, several anti-hate groups collect data and report rates of hate crime victimization at both the national and regional levels. It is important to note that each agency collects the data in a different manner and thus, each report varies in terms of rates, types, and focus of hate crime. For example, since the NCVS collects information through anonymous surveys, the rates of hate crime are significantly higher than the official police records reported in the UCR. Also, since state laws differ, what is considered a hate crime in one state may not be considered a hate crime in another state and therefore may not be counted in the UCR. Thus, data reporting sources differ on the number and types of hate crimes reported.

A. National Hate Crime Statistics Reported Through Summary UCR

Based on the hate crime reports from law enforcement agencies across the United States, the UCR data reflect aggregate frequencies of incidents, victims, suspected offenders, and categories of bias motivation. Since 1991, participation in the program has increased substantially from 29% to 85% of the United States population being represented. Nationally, the number of hate crimes reported has fluctuated between about 6,000 and 10,000 incidents annually since 1991 (U.S. Department of Justice, FBI, 2008).

Historically, racial animosity consistently has been the leading motivation for hate crime, followed by religious intolerance, and sexual orientation bias motives. According to the FBI’s most recent report, Hate Crime Statistics, 2006, a total of 7,772 criminal incidents involving 9,080 offenses and 9,652 victims were reported in 2006 as a result of bias against a particular race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity/national origin, or physical or mental disability. The majority of hate crime incidents, 51.8%, were motivated by racial bias, and an additional 12.7% were driven by hatred for a particular ethnicity or nationality. Roughly 19% were motivated by religious intolerance, and 15.5% were triggered by bias against a sexual orientation. One percent involved bias against physical or mental disabilities (U.S. Department of Justice, FBI, 2008).

Sixty-six percent of racial bias incidents were anti-black, and 22% were anti-white. Fifty-eight percent of ethnicity bias incidents were anti-Hispanic. Sixty-six percent of religious bias incidents were anti-Jewish, while 11% were anti-Islamic. According to data for the 7,330 known offenders reported in 2006, an estimated 58.6 percent were white, and 20.6% were black. The race of the offender was unknown for 12.9%, and other races accounted for the remaining known offenders. The majority (31.0%) of hate crime incidents in 2006 occurred in or near residences or homes; followed by 18.0% on highways, roads, alleys, or streets; 12.2% at colleges or schools; 6.1% in parking lots or garages; and 3.9% at churches, synagogues, or temples. The remaining 28.8% of hate crime incidents occurred at other specified locations, multiple locations, or other/ unknown locations.

B. National Hate Crime Statistics Through NCVS

On July 1, 2000, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), a branch of the U.S. Department of Justice, initiated the addition of new items to the National Crime Victimization Survey that are designed to uncover hate crime victimizations that go underreported to the police. The NCVS hate crime questions ask victims about the basis for their belief that the crime they experienced was motivated by prejudice or bigotry, as well as the specific behavior of the offender or evidence that may have led to the victim’s perception of bias. Crimes reported to the NCVS—sexual assaults, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny, or vandalism—with evidence of hatred toward any of these specific groups are classified as crimes motivated by hate. However, NCVS does not include crimes covered by the UCR, such as murder, arson, commercial crimes, and crimes against children under the age of 12. In addition, the NCVS does not include reports of crime from institutions, organizations, churches, schools, and businesses, although persons involved in these entities are included. The data for hate crimes from the NCVS include information about victims, offenders, and characteristics of crimes—both crimes reported to police and those not reported (U.S. Department of Justice, BJS, 2008).

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics special report on victims derived from the NCVS from July 2000 through December 2003, an annual average of 210,000 hate crime victimizations occurred. During that period, an average of 191,000 hate crime incidents involving one or more victims occurred annually in the United States. About 3% of all violent crimes and 0.2% of all property crimes revealed to the NCVS by victims were perceived to be hate crimes. Victims also indicated that 92,000 of these hate crime victimizations (approximately 44%) were reported to police. That is, NCVS data indicate that the majority of hate crime victims, like victims of many other crimes, do not report the incident to law enforcement. When the victims themselves reported to police, they did so primarily to prevent the offender from committing further offenses (35%) and to obtain help from the police (33%).

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