Lifeless bodies with slashed throats were found in the mountains of Virginia nearly six years ago. This is quite a disturbing image; the unfortunate result of a hate crime. What exactly is a hate crime? The American Psychological Association defines hate crimes as "violent acts against people, property, or organizations because of the group to which they belong or identify with" (1). The different groups usually involved include homosexuals, ethnic groups, and religion affiliations.
Dr. Jack McDevitt, a criminologist at Northeastern University in Boston, said hate crimes are forms of messages the offender wants to send to members of certain groups letting them know they are unwelcome in that neighborhood, community, school or workplace (APA, 1).
According to CNN.com, Darrell David Rice of Columbia, Maryland, was found guilty of committing the 1996 slayings of hikers Julianne Marie Williams and Laura "Lollie" Winans, who were the girls in the opening disturbing image.
Rice is serving an 11-year sentence in federal prison in Petersburg, Virginia, for attempting to abduct and kill a female bicyclist in the same park in 1997. U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft called the killings of Williams and Winans "hate crimes" and said Rice could also receive the death penalty, in addition to the present sentence (Frieden, 1).
Examples of hate crimes provided by Stephen Wessler's "Addressing Hate Crimes: Six Initiatives" include (3):
ÃÂ·the dragging death of African-American James Byrd, Jr., in Jasper, Texas
ÃÂ·the deadly attack on Matthew Sheppard, a gay student in Laramie, Wyoming
ÃÂ·the shooting rampage targeting minority citizens in Chicago
ÃÂ·the shootings of children at a Jewish community center in Los Angeles
ÃÂ·the murder of Joseph Santos Ileto, a Filipino-American mail carrier
A report done by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) states that 7,947 hate crime incidents were reported. In 1995, a comparison of...