Posted on August 19, 2016
Nearly all hate crimes go unpunished in the US. Victimization surveys show around 260,000 hate crimes per year. Under 6000, or 2%, get reported to the FBI. Of those many do not lead to convictions.
Problems include absence of police enforcement, unwillingness to prosecute, and bad laws. Many hate crimes go uncharged because they lead to no additional penalty over the underlying crime. Many hate crimes are not covered by law, such as crimes against LGBTQ victims in some Southern states. Standards of proof are often murky.
Some civil libertarians oppose the whole idea of hate crime on the grounds that it criminalizes free speech and free thought. I think they are nuts. By the same logic genocide would allegedly be no worse than x number of murders.
What hate crime criminalizes is felonious acts against individuals with the intent of attacking or terrorizing an entire group which the individual belongs to. Since the act by its nature has many victims, it is far worse than an otherwise similar felony with only a single victim. You can engage in all the hate speech you want provided you don’t physically attack or threaten actual individuals. Hence free speech is not at issue.
Given the ongoing encouragement of hate crimes by a certain presidential candidate, now would be a good time to revisit hate crime law and hate crime enforcement procedures and hate crime statistics collection.