A hate crime, also known as a bias crime, is a criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society which is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin.
In response to mounting national concern over crimes motivated by bias, Congress enacted the Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990 on April 23 of that year. This law required the Attorney General to collect data "about crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity." The Attorney General delegated the responsibilities of developing the procedures for and implementing, collecting, and managing hate crime data to the Director of the FBI, who in turn assigned the tasks to the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program. In September 1994, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act amended the Hate Crime Statistics Act to include both physical and mental disabilities as potential bias factors, and the actual collection of disability-bias data began in January 1997. Additionally, the Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996 mandated that hate crime data collection become a permanent part of the UCR Program.
Those who developed the guidelines for hate crime data collection recognized that hate crimes are not separate, distinct crimes; instead they are traditional offenses motivated by the offender's bias. After much consideration, the developers decided that hate crime data could be derived by capturing the additional element of bias in those offenses already being reported to the UCR Program. Appending the collection of hate crime statistics to the established UCR data collection procedures, they concluded, would fulfill the directives of the Hate Crime Statistics Act without placing an undue additional reporting burden on law enforcement and, in time, develop a substantial body of data about the nature and frequency of bias crimes occurring throughout the Nation. Accordingly, the law enforcement agencies that participate in the national hate crime program collect details about an offender's bias motivation associated with the following offense types: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, aggravated assault, simple assault, intimidation, robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, and destruction/damage/vandalism of property. (The law enforcement agencies participating in the National Incident-Based Reporting System also collect additional offense types for crimes against persons and crimes against property, which the UCR Program publishes as "other." In addition, these agencies collect hate crime data for another category called "crimes against society.")
An abstract based on the information received from law enforcement agencies that provided 1 to 12 months of hate crime reports during 2002 follows. More detailed information concerning the characteristics of hate crime can be found in the UCR Program's annual publication Hate Crime Statistics.
A total of 12,073 law enforcement agencies participated in the hate crime program during 2002. Of these agencies, 1,868 agencies (15.5 percent) submitted 7,462 hate crime incident reports to the FBI. (See Table 2.36.) The following hate crime abstract is based on the data received from those law enforcement agencies that provided 1 to 12 months of hate crime reports.
Law Enforcement Reports
The UCR Program data collection guidelines stipulate that a hate crime may involve multiple offenses, victims, and offenders within one incident. Accordingly, in 2002, the 7,462 hate crime incidents reported to the FBI involved 8,832 separate offenses, 9,222 victims, and 7,314 known offenders. (See Table 2.33.) (The term known offender does not imply that the identity of the suspect is known but only that some attribute of the suspect has been identified, distinguishing him or her from an unknown offender.)
Of the total single-bias incidents reported in 2002, 48.8 percent were motivated by racial bias, 19.1 percent were driven by prejudice against a particular religion, 16.7 percent involved a sexual-orientation bias, 14.8 percent resulted from a bias against an ethnicity or national origin, and 0.6 percent were motivated by a disability bias. (Based on Table 2.33.)
In addition to single-bias incidents, hate crime data collection guidelines permit the identification of multiple-bias incidents. These are incidents in which two or more offense types were committed as a result of two or more bias motivations. Only 3 of the 7,462 incidents reported in 2002 met that criteria. (See Table 2.33.)
A victim of an offense, according to the UCR definition, may be either a person, a business, an institution, or society as a whole. When aggregating the number of hate crime offenses committed against individuals, the program counts one offense for each victim. The offense types of murder, rape, aggravated assault, simple assault, and intimidation are possible crimes against persons. When counting crimes against property, the program allots one offense for each distinct incident regardless of the number of victims. Robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, and destruction/damage/vandalism comprise the offense types that are possible crimes against property.
During 2002, a total of 5,960 (67.5 percent) of reported hate crime offenses were crimes against persons, and 2,823 (32.0 percent) were crimes against property. (Crimes against society comprised 0.6 percent of the reported offenses.) Intimidation continued to be the most frequently reported hate crime against individuals and accounted for 52.1 percent of all crimes against persons. Destruction/damage/vandalism of property was the most frequently reported crime against property. Of the instances of crimes against property, 83.1 percent were for the offenses of destruction/damage/vandalism. (Based on Table 2.34.)
A total of 9,222 individuals, businesses, institutions, or society as a whole were victims of hate crimes in 2002. Approximately 49.7 percent of all single-bias hate crime victims were targets of racial prejudice. Of these victims, 67.2 percent were attacked because of an anti-black bias motivation, and 19.9 percent were attacked because of an anti-white bias motivation. Eighteen percent of single-bias hate crime victims were targets because of the offender's bias toward the victim's religion. Of these, 65.3 percent were targeted because of an anti-Jewish bias motivation. Additionally, 16.4 percent of total single-bias hate crime victims were attacked because of the offender's prejudice against the victim's sexual-orientation; among these victims, 65.0 percent were victims of an anti-male homosexual bias motivation. Approximately 15.3 percent of hate crime victims were targets of ethnicity/national origin bias. Of these, 45.4 percent were victims of anti-Hispanic sentiment. (Based on Table 2.33.)
In 2002, there were 7,314 known offenders who committed crimes motivated by biases. The majority of these known hate crime offenders were white, 61.8 percent; 21.8 percent were black; 1.2 percent were Asian or Pacific Islander; 0.6 percent were American Indian or Alaskan Native; 9.8 percent were of unknown race; and 4.9 percent were groups of offenders consisting of multiple races. (Based on Table 2.35.)
Percent Distribution 1 2002
|Anti-American Indian/Alaskan Native||62||68||72||52|
|Anti-Multiple Races, Group||158||202||242||143|
|Anti-Multiple Religions, Group||31||32||32||18|
|Anti-Other Ethnicity/National Origin||622||744||770||591|
|Crimes against persons:||4,784||5,960||5,960||6,090|
|Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter||11||11||11||15|
|Crimes against property:||2,823||2,823||3,213||1,423|
|Motor vehicle theft||9||9||9||3|
|Crimes against society4||49||49||49||61|
Known offender's race
|American Indian/Alaskan Native||43|
|Multiple Races, Group2||355|
Total number of
|District of Columbia||2||570,898||2||14|