What is a hate crime?
A hate crime (sometimes termed a “bias crime”) is defined by law as a crime, usually an assault or a property crime like vandalism or graffiti, where the offender targets his or her victim specifically due to one or more personal characteristics (either real or perceived) such as race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or gender expression.
Hate crimes are message crimes that not only affect the victim, but also the members of the targeted group or community, letting them know that they are not welcome.
What are hate crime laws?
Hate crimes laws provide enhanced penalties against criminals who target victims out of bias against a victim’s race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or gender expression. Most states have their own hate crimes statutes that include some or all of those protected categories. Federal hate crimes laws, however, include all of the protected categories.
How can I see what is covered under my state’s hate crimes laws?
The Anti-Defamation League maintains a great, interactive map that outlines what each state’s hate crimes laws cover.
What is the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act?
The Matthew Shepard and James Bryd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act is a federal hate crimes law. Passed in 2009, it expanded existing federal hate crimes law to include a victim’s sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability. Prior to 2009, federal hate crimes law only included a victim’s race, color, religion or national origin.
How can I coordinate a hate crimes training in my region?
Training for law enforcement agencies is necessary if officers are to effectively investigate hate crimes and report them accurately each year to the FBI. Unfortunately, not all law enforcement agencies require officers to undergo hate crimes trainings. The most important first step you can take is simply to find out if your local police department and sheriff department have such requirements. If you’re uncomfortable contacting them, or if you’re not sure how to contact them, please Contact Us so that we can help.