The FBI released the 2010 Hate Crime statistics that were gathered from information provided by law enforcement agencies all over the United States. The good news is that there was no rise in hate crimes; the bad news is that there was no significant decrease either.
According to the FBI, “These data indicate that 6,628 criminal incidents involving 7,699 offenses were reported in 2010 as a result of bias toward a particular race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity/national origin, or physical or mental disability.” Over 47% of the hate crimes involved racial bias while 20% dealt with religious bias. Nearly 20% of the hate crime victims reported in 2010 were targeted because of their sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation.
The reported hate crimes ranged from vandalism to murder. Though law enforcement is working on finding a more uniformed way to classify hate crimes, you may still find one police force or district attorney’s office classifies a crime as a hate crime while another does not. Not every state has added penalty enhancements for suspects convicted of a hate crime. Texas passed a hate crimes bill called the James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act, back in 2001, but it’s used so sparingly here that it may as well not have passed at all.
In Texas, over 2500 hate crimes have been reported to law enforcement since the 2001 bill passed. However, only 11 hate crime cases have actually been prosecuted here. Hate crimes are hard to prove in court, but not impossible. If a prosecutor can show that a crime was motivated by bias, the conviction could result in increased penalties.
If you would like email notification when new Kaufman County Crime Examiner articles are published, add your email address to the “Subscribe” button at the top of this page.