Hate Crimes

Essay by erinoconnorCollege, UndergraduateA+, October 2004

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Hate crimes are commonly called bias-motivated crimes, referring to the prejudice of the perpetrator against the victim's real or perceived grouping or circumstance. Most hate crimes are committed not by organized hate groups but by individual citizens who harbor a strong resentment against a certain group of people, and they aim to harm them or rid them altogether (Hate crimes: bulletin).

Hate crimes present many problems that remain unsolved. One of the most important is the fact that they are becoming national trend. Individuals who offer unique qualities such as race, ethnicity, and sexual preference to this diverse world no longer feel safe due to the fact that most hate crimes are targeted towards those who differ from some people's opinion of who "belongs here". People and groups are being sent a message that simply, your religion, gender, race, sexual orientation or belief system; you are not welcome here.

Cases of harassment, stalking, murder, and vandalisms happen all over the United States as a result of hate crimes. In 1996, law enforcement agencies in 49 states and the District of Columbia reported 8,759 bias-motivated criminal offenses to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the federal government agency mandated by Congress to gather the statistics (Hate crimes: bulletin). The FBI relies on local law enforcement to voluntarily report what they believe to be a hate crime and in turn, local officials count on the community and its individuals to report hate crimes. Since only forty states have hate crime laws, it can be assumed that these crimes are under-reported. Out of the forty states that do have some kind of hate crime laws, only eighteen have laws protecting those discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.

Who decides if the criminal dislikes something so much those feelings...