What Justice Professionals Need to Know about Hate Crime

What Justice Professionals Need to Know about Hate Crime
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Resources
Recorded on: 2019-07-16
Unit 1Recording: What Justice Professionals Need to Know about Hate Crime
Unit 2Workbook: What Justice Professionals Need to Know about Hate Crime

The nature of hate crime is differentiated from all other types of crime such that its motivation is deeply rooted prejudice against specific segments of society over things that a person cannot change about themselves even if they want to such as race, sexual orientation and disability. From efforts to spread hate through words and rhetoric, to the most heinous and violent crimes, hate crimes are transpiring and anyone can be a target.

Back on Justice Clearinghouse is Laurie Wood to discuss what justice professionals need to know about hate crimes. Laurie is the Director for Investigations at the Southern Poverty Law Center where she oversees the Investigative Unit in intelligence gathering and analysis of hate groups. She is also tasked with training local, state and federal law enforcement on hate groups and their activities

Some of the points she focused on in this course are:

  • Examples of the most extreme hate crimes that have happened in the past couple of years across the US.
  • Differentiating hate crimes from hate incidents based on their definitions.
  • How hate crime definitions, inclusions and limitations can vary greatly from state to state.
  • Using case studies from the state of Vermont and their hate crime definitions and protected categories to understand hate crime prosecution that zeroes in on the reason for criminal behavior.
  • How to recognize the different criteria of the case if it rises to a hate crime/incident by:
    • Understanding the motivation behind the act.
    • Acknowledging the victims’ perception of the incident.
    • Looking for symbols, words and acts that may be linked to hate groups and their activities.
    • Considering the date of the incident if it falls on a holiday or any day of significance for the victim or offender.
    • Looking at the demographics of the area to understand how biases may play out.
  • Guidelines for the different actors who will be responding to a hate crime scene that requires:
    • Recognizing and collecting evidence that can establish motivation or links to hate groups, and removing or covering these up to avoid causing distress to others within a community.
    • Proper documentation of pertinent facts and details including verbatim of derogatory terms used.
    • Establishing if patterns of such events occurred in the area in the past.
    • Keeping relevant officials informed on the details of the case.
    • Providing support, assistance and resources to victims, their loved ones, and the community to alleviate concerns and gather information.
    • Establishing contacts with resources across different sectors of society.
    • Keeping media up to date to help with information dissemination.
  • The importance of reporting such that concerned agencies are able to capture the reality and extent of hate crimes and incidents.
    • Facts and figures from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey (NVCS).
    • Why these two reports have a striking disparity in data due to different sources, inclusions, definitions and limitations.
    • What NCVS found to be the reasons why hate crime isn’t reported to law enforcement.
  • Understanding your local hate crime law, the role of police in enforcing this, and states that are still yet to enact hate crime laws.
  • During the Q&A, Laurie clarified questions on the difference of hate crime from hate incident, and the definition of disability.


Audience Comments:

  • “For those attending who haven’t explored or utilized the SPLC Law Enforcement services, I can say they are top-notch. I’ve used them a number of times both for training and for cases and the work the Center does is simply second to none. SPLC has been a leader for decades finding some of the most unique ways to fight hate when the criminal system wasn’t able, and that too speaks volumes.” –Abraham
  • “The 3 R’s – Recognize, Respond, Report (all of those are the responsible and community-minded things to do – immediately). Good to remember the final and most important element in determining hate crimes is motivation and the difference between an incident and a crime. Thank you.” – Pamela
  • “How to differentiate between hate speech & free speech with respect to hate groups distributing flyers. Laurie was phenomenal & I’d LOVE to have her present a more in-depth look at specific hate groups, their specific & historic motivations, their recruitment & indoctrination methods, and things like that.” –Heather
  • “That when building a criminal case, to distinguish whether or not the actions were motivated by hate or bias, or even if the incident rises to the level of a criminal offense.” — Judith


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