Importanceof Hate Crime Legislation
Importanceof Hate Crime Legislation
Hatecrime is considered as one of the most common types of offense in themodern world. It is estimated that about 5,479 offenses motivated byhate were reported in the year 2015 (Federal Bureau of Investigation,2015). However, the number of incidents reduced from the previousyear where 5,928 had been reported. Policing is a dynamic processthat is influenced by different factors, such as industrializationand urbanization (Peak, 2012). Similarly, changes in the society thatcreate an environment for hate crime to thrive can necessitate thechange in policing strategies, including the formulation of laws toaddress the new trend. The Federal Bureau of Investigation attributedthe slight decline to measures taken by the stakeholders in thelegislation as well as the law enforcement departments to enhancepublic awareness and use the law to protect people who are consideredto be at the risk of being hurt because of their social anddemographic differences. Vulnerable people are hated for differentreasons, but most of them are affected because of their race,religion, and age. This paper will address the factors that make hatecrime laws an effective tool for addressing offenses that aremotivated by prejudice.
Trendsand Prevalence of Hate Crime
Althoughoffenders are motivated by different factors, race is the most commonsources of hate. It is estimated that about 47 % of all victims ofhate crime are attacked because of their race (FBI, 2015). Inaddition, about 82.4 % of all cases are single-bias offenses while17.6 % of victims are businesses, government, and religiousorganizations. Approximately 63.1 % of hate offenders target peoplewhile 36.1 % focus on the properties of the vulnerable people (FBI,2015). Criminals who are motivated by prejudice can destroy propertyor injure individuals that they dislike, with the objective ofexpressing the level of hatred. Hate crimes laws are developed at thestate as well as the federal levels. In most cases, these lawsincrease penalties and sentences for offenders of hatred.
Protectionof Vulnerable Groups
Supportersof legislation that is formulated to curb hate crimes argue that theprimary objective of these laws is to protect groups that areconsidered as the most vulnerable in the society. Some people haveargued that hate crime laws punish people because they have hatefulfeelings that are beyond their control (Meli, 2014). However, it isevident that the laws target individuals who prey on vulnerablepeople, but they do not allow the law enforcement agents to apprehendindividuals because of their hateful thoughts. This implies thatpeople cannot be punished unless they exercise their hateful thoughtsto attack the vulnerable groups. There exists a significantdifference between the possession of hateful feelings and theexpression of hateful thoughts through acts that harm other people.Legislations do not deny people the right to feel and think, but theyare prohibited from expressions that endanger the lives of others.
HateCrimes Hurt More and Should be Deterred Using Unique Legislation
Thepsychological impact of hate crime on victims has been acontroversial issue. Crimes that are motivated by prejudice are morelikely to result in trauma than other categories of offenses. Theresearch findings reported by Dixon & Gadd (2012) indicated thatvictims of hate crime are at a higher risk of suffering frompsychological trauma compared to people who are affected by offensesthat are motivated factors other than prejudice and hate. Inaddition, a single incident of hate crime that targets an individualof a given minority group causes fear in all people with similarfeatures. For example, an attack that affects a person of color in agiven estate instills fear in all people of color living in thatestate since it creates a perception that they might be targeted anymoment. This implies that a single incident that is motivated by hatehas a significant impact not only on the victim, but also on peoplewith similar social as well as demographic characteristics. Thiscreates the need for a special set of legislation that will enhancethe safety of the affected groups.
TheSymbolic Role of the Law
Theopponents of the hate crime have argued that crimes against humanityare punishable using the ordinary laws, which reduce the need for thedevelopment of new legislation. However, creating a special set oflaws can play a critical role of warning the potential perpetratorsof hate crimes by informing them that the government as well as thesociety condemns actions that are motivated by prejudice in thestrongest terms possible (Dixon & Gadd, 2012). This symbolism ofthe law is an effective tool that deters hate crime with time. Thisis accomplished by facilitating the development of a society thatdoes not tolerate prejudice and hate. Therefore, the hate crime lawsnot only punish offenders, but also warn potential criminals in thesociety.
AnIncrease in Professional Practice
Thedevelopment of a body of laws to handle hate crimes is considered asa way of increasing the level of professionalism among thestakeholders in the judicial system. According to Dixon & Gadd(2012) hate crime legislation motivate the judicial officers, police,and prosecutors to recognize offenses that are based on prejudice forwhat they are, respond appropriately to victims, and treat theculprits seriously. There is a reasonable connection between the law,the process of developing a guideline for service providers, and animprovement in response to hate motivated offenses. In other words,the enforcement agents are employed to ensure that laws areimplemented in a professional way, but the establishment of a specialbody of legislation that focus on a particular type of crime works asa wake call to sensitize them about the need for them to give it aspecial consideration.
Importanceof Community Policing
Legislationis an important tool that enhances the policing process, with theobjective of protecting all groups that are considered as vulnerablebecause of their demographic characteristics. According to Bartkowiak& Asquith (2014) laws that are developed to deal with crimes thatare motivated by hate help the stakeholders in the community policingsector increase tolerance in a diverse community. The laws expand thesimplistic comprehension of the concept of diversity as issues thatare related to wealth, race, age, education, sexual orientation,education, and gender identity. Multiculturalism is currently one ofthe key trends in the U.S., which has increased ethnic diversity(Shusta, Levine, Wong, Olson & Harris, 2015). By increasing theability of police officers to understand all types of social as wellas demographic differences that can act as sources of hate,legislation motivates the law enforcement agents to developtechniques that can help them maintain law and order in a diversecommunity. Therefore, the role of hate crime laws in enhancingcommunity policing cannot be ignored.
Hatecrime legislation are effective tools that have been shown to reduceoffenses that are motivated by prejudice. This is accomplished byplaying the symbolic role of law, enhancing the level of communitypolicing, and professionalism. Although there are laws that can beused to punish people who attack others on the basis of theirdifferences in demographic features, hate crime legislation plays acritical role in sensitizing the stakeholders in the criminal justicesystems about the significant impact of these types of offenses thataffect the vulnerable people. The formulation of hare crime lawsshould be encouraged.
Bartkowiak,I. & Asquith, L. (2014). Policing diversity and vulnerability inthe post-Macpherson Era: Unintended consequences and missedopportunities. Policing,9 (1), 89-100.
Dixon,B. & Gadd, D. (2012). Hate crime legislation reconsidered. CrimeQuarterly,40, 25-30.
FederalBureau of Investigation (2015). Latest hate crime statisticsavailable. FBI.Retrieved August 9, 2016, fromhttps://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/latest-hate-crime-statistics-available
Shusta,R.M., Levine, D.R., Wong, H.Z., Olson, A.T., & Harris, P.R.(2015). MulticulturalLaw Enforcement: Strategies for Peacekeeping in a Diverse Society,(6th ed).Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Meli,L. (2014). Hate crime and punishment: Why typical punishment does notfit the crime. Universityof Illinois Law Review,3, 921-966.
Peak,K. (2012). PolicingAmerica, (7th ed).Boston, MA: Pearson.