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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 142390 Find in a Library
Author(s): M A Sandberg
Date Published: 1993
Page Count: 13
Sponsoring Agency: University of Illinois at Chicago
Chicago, IL 60607-2919
Sale Source: University of Illinois at Chicago
Office of International Criminal Justice
1033 West Van Buren Street, Suite 500
Chicago, IL 60607-2919
United States of America
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This essay discusses why crimes motivated by religious, ethnic, racial, and gay bias are more serious than similar crimes having other motivations and why they should therefore carry enhanced penalties.
Abstract: A crime that targets an individual or family because of religious, ethnic, racial, or sexual identity is designed to intimidate all members of the group and thus fuels fear and a sense of vulnerability far beyond the direct effects of the offense on the victims. The absence of a particularized law enforcement response to such crimes undermines confidence in the police and may encourage groups targeted for hate crimes to take the law into their own hands. For more than 10 years, the Anti-Defamation League has drafted model hate crimes statutes. They are designed to take existing criminal offenses, such as assault, battery, or criminal damage to property and to require penalty enhancement when the offender is convicted not only of the offense but also of bias-based motivation for committing the offense. The intent of such laws is to better equip police, prosecutors, and judges to address bias crimes severely. The U.S. Supreme Court has rendered unconstitutional laws that sanction actions or speech that express bias but cause no direct identifiable physical or financial harm. Still, a substantial network of local, State, and Federal laws that have made it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, and national origin in employment, housing, and public accommodation are constitutional. Under these laws, proof of intent to discriminate may be introduced in the form of statements of employers or property managers. If the introduction and consideration of their words to prove unlawful discrimination is constitutional, then it should also be constitutional to introduce and consider such evidence as means of proving bias and enhancing penalties when criminal offenses are involved. Appended bias crime incident report
Main Term(s): Hate Crimes
Index Term(s): Bias related violence; Crime specific countermeasures; Criminal intent; Criminology; Federal Code; Freedom of speech; Police; Sentencing factors; State laws
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