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American States Have Vague Inconsistent Hate Crime Legislation

Author: Florida Atlantic University
Author Contact: fau.edu
Published: 18th Jan 2023
Peer-Reviewed Publication: Yes
DOI: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15564886.2022.2140729
Additional References: Sexual Discrimination Publications

Summary: Study provides a content analysis of race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and disability hate crime legislation in America.

Definition

Hate Crime

A hate crime (also known as a bias-motivated crime or bias crime) is a prejudice-motivated crime that occurs when a perpetrator targets a victim because of their membership (or perceived membership) of a particular social group or racial demographic. Examples of such groups can include and are almost exclusively limited to ethnicity, disability, language, nationality, physical appearance, political views and affiliation, age, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Main Document

Defining Hate: A Content Analysis of State Hate Crime Legislation in the United States of America

Hate crimes in the United States have increased in frequency in recent years. The rise of antisemitism, white supremacy, and religious extremism has prompted the federal government and many states to pass several pieces of legislation targeted at crimes motivated by hate.

To better understand the nature of these laws, researchers from Florida Atlantic University conducted a content analysis focused on the nation's hate crime legislation from all 50 states following 2016 but before the 2017 legislative session.

The final data analysis consisted of 271 statutes. Four themes emerged from the data, including how hate crimes have been contextualized, inconsistencies in hate crime legislation coverage, differences in court procedures in hate crime cases, and state efforts to combat hate crimes.

Results of the study, published in the journal Victims & Offenders, showed that race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and disability were among the most recognized classes and populations in hate crime legislation. However, coverage differed greatly within these classifications due to how states conceptualize them.

"Every state legislates hate crimes differently, which results in differential justice in these cases across the nation," said Seth Fallik, Ph.D., lead author, associate professor and undergraduate coordinator in the School for Criminology and Criminal Justice within FAU's College of Social Work and Criminal Justice.

Among The Study's Key Findings:

California offered the most encompassing law, delineating protected classes and locations while conceptualizing both. The researchers say California should serve as a basis for states moving forward, as it addresses the vagueness and inconsistent nature of other state statutes.

"There is still much more work to be done. We suggest that state legislation provide greater conciseness and specificity to the law and courtroom procedures, be mindful of appropriate social science definitions, apply equal coverage to institutions, and provide victims' resources and public services through legislation," said Cassandra Atkin-Plunk, Ph.D., co-author, an associate professor, and associate director in FAU's College of Social Work and Criminal Justice. "By doing so, hate crime and its harms can be adequately addressed within the criminal justice system."

Study Co-authors

Scott Gardner, a graduate student in FAU's School of Criminology and Criminal Justice; Alexandria Remillard, a graduate assistant at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs; Thomas Venuto, a graduate of FAU's College of Business; and Adam Dobrin, Ph.D., an associate professor in FAU's School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

References and Source(s):

American States Have Vague Inconsistent Hate Crime Legislation | Florida Atlantic University (fau.edu). SexualDiversity.org makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith. Content may have been edited for style, clarity or length.

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• (APA): Florida Atlantic University. (2023, January 18). American States Have Vague Inconsistent Hate Crime Legislation. SexualDiversity.org. Retrieved January 30, 2023 from www.sexualdiversity.org/discrimination/1129.php


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