Overview of Chapters:
Hate crimes laws were not the first legal remedie for prejudice-inspired offenses, some
civil rights legislation dates to the end of the civil war.
Why hate crime laws are necessary\desirable come down to 3 assertions:
o Hate crime offenders deserve increased punishments because hate crimes are
worse than ordinary crimes
o Hate crime laws will deter these offenses
o The laws will have the symbolic effect of stating that this sort of behavior is
What is a hate crime?
o Not a crime in which the offender hates the victim. Most crimes involving hatred
between the parties would not fall under the legal definition of hate crimes.
Technically, the act does not need to be motivated by hatred at all.
o Simplest definition: a criminal act which is motivated at least in part, by the group
affiliation of the victim.
Arguments for Having Hate Crime Laws
o Retribution: Hate Crimes are different from ordinary crimes
Victims may suffer more psychological trauma
There have been only a few studies that actually assess the
emotional state of hate crime victims. The most we can conclude is
that under some circumstances, hate crimes might be more
traumatic than other crimes.
Victims may suffer more physical trauma
Hate crimes may have a wider impact
Hate crimes may spark retaliation and conflict
While the concept of deterrence is accurate, it suffers from a number of
assumptions that are probably faulty. In any case, it is unlikely that many
potential hate crime offenders engage in the rational weighing of risks and
benefits that deterrence theory assumes.
Potential offenders will be aware of hate crime laws.
o They can’t be deterred if they don’t know the law exists.
o It’s unlikely that they know what constitutes as a hate
Offenders believe that there is a reasonable likelihood of being
caught and prosecuted.
A potential offender is not already deterred by the potential of
being punished for the underlying crime, but would be by the
addition of a punishment for a hate crime
o Hate crimes involve only acts that are already punishable. In the minds of would-be offenders, the risks of engaging in a hate
crime outweigh the potential benefits
o Symbolic effects
A strong third claim has been made that the laws serve a symbolic
purpose. Of all the arguments made in support of hate crimes legislation,
the symbolic argument is perhaps the most frequently given.
Probably the strongest argument.
Birth of Hate Crimes
o Anti-Defamation League:
group that combats anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry. With allies
such as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Institute
for Prejudice and violence and the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ADL
began lobbying states to pass the statute.
o Model statue contained 4 provisions:
Institutional Vandalism- aimed primarily at people who targeted
cemeteries, community centers, and places of worship.
Intimidation- more revolutionary, a person would be found guilty of an
intimidation if he or she violated some existing criminal law and if he or
she committed the crime because of the victim’s group. While only certain
groups were protected, this was a significant expansion on civil rights
laws. Also acts as penalty enhancer, bumping up the seriousness of the
underlying crime by one degree. Later modified this sectio