Hate crimes are different from other crimes that one may encounter in their law enforcement career. Hate crimes are committed due to a somewhat irrational disdain over certain groups – so much that the offenders might even think that these groups do not deserve to live. It targets people over factors that they have no control over like their race, religion or sexual orientation. This quality makes hate crimes dangerous as anyone can fall victim to it as long as the offender perceives that a person falls to that group that he or she specifically despise.
Laurie Wood graced Justice Clearinghouse with her presence to share her expertise when it comes to dealing with hate crimes. Laurie has been a part of the Southern Poverty Law Center for over 2 decades. She is currently the Director of Investigation where she oversees intelligence gathering and analysis of radical right and anti-government extremist movements.
Laurie provides a rundown of the important concepts related to hate crimes and how to recognize, respond to, and report such incidents. She gives an in-depth discussion on:
- The different hate crime cases that made it to the headlines, as well as those that remained unreported.
- FBI’s definition of hate crimes and the protected groups.
- Distinguishing hate crimes from regular crimes by looking at the motivation.
- Case studies that provide an overview of how hate crime enforcement is practiced.
- Recognizing hate crimes and questions that can lead you to uncover by the motivation behind the act.
- Responding to hate crimes for the different law enforcement actors that highlights the importance of evidence collection, information gathering from the community, and providing support and resources to the victim, their family, and community.
- Reporting hate crimes to the FBI, the details needed in a report, and the importance of doing so.
- FBI’s hate crime statistics and its topline findings on the demographics of victims and offenders.
- Numbers from the Bureau of Justice Statistics' National Crime Victimization Survey that outlines the reasons for victimization.
- Comparing the parameters used in the Victimization Survey and the Police Data which created the glaring difference in the number of incidents.
- A very critical finding from the NCVS that specifies the reasons why hate crime victimization is not being reported as much to law enforcement.
- Hate crime legislation in various states that usually differs in the scope of the protected classes, and the 5 remaining states that do not have a Hate Crime Law.
- More case studies illustrating the significance of hate crime laws and the magnitude of damage hate crimes can inflict on communities.
Some of the questions raised by the audience relate to:
- Considering violence against women as hate crimes
- Dealing with offenders on probation who still manifest bias
- Specific examples of hate incidents
- Protection for LGBTQ people in hate crime laws
- Addressing cases when victims believe there is bias but lacks evidence to prove such
- The implications of an offense being enhanced as a hate crime