Instant Criminal Reports


Hate Crime statistics, 2003-2009

U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Lynn Langton and Michael Planty, BJS Statisticians , June 2011

Special Report on Crime Statistics

From 2003 to 2009, an annual average of 195,000 hate crime victimizations occurred each year against persons age 12 or older residing in the United States, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). The 148,400 overall hate crime victimizations that occurred in 2009 represent a decline from 2003 when residents experienced 239,400 hate crime victimizations. During the period, the number and rate of violent hate crime victimizations also declined. The rate of violent hate crime declined from 0.8 violent hate crime victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older in 2003 to 0.5 per 1,000 in 2009 (figure 1). Nearly 90% of the hate crime victimizations occurring during the 7-year period were perceived to be racially or ethnically motivated.

The 1990 Hate Crime Statistics Act (P.L. 101-275) defines bias-motivated or hate crimes as “crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.” The law has since been amended twice: once in 1994 to include crimes motivated by bias against persons with disabilities, and in late 2009 to include crimes of prejudice based on gender or gender identity.1

1The NCVS has collected information about hate crime victimizations motivated by gender bias since 2003. This report excludes gender-based hate crimes to allow for comparability with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and to maintain consistency with the legal definition of hate crime during the period of analysis.

graph001

Figure 1

Note: In the NCVS, crime is classified as hate crime if the victim perceived that the offender was motivated by bias because the offender used hate language, left behind hate symbols, or the police investigators confirmed that the incident was a hate crime. Rate is per 1,000 persons age 12 or older. See appendix table 17 for standard errors. See appendix table 1 for base population numbers.

*Due to methodological changes in the 2006 NCVS, use caution when comparing 2006 criminal victimization estimates to other years. See Criminal Victimization, 2006, http://www.bjs.gov, for more information.

Source: National Crime Victimization Survey, January 2003 - December 2009.

Highlights

  • From 2003 to 2009, the rate of violent hate crime victimizations in the United States decreased from
  • 0.8 per 1,000 persons age 12 or older to 0.5 per 1,000.
  • From 2003 to 2009, hate crime victimizations accounted for less than 1% of the total victimizations captured by the NCVS.
  • In nearly 90% of hate crime victimizations occurring between 2003 and 2009, the victim suspected the offender was motivated by racial or ethnic prejudice or both.
  • More than 4 in 5 hate crime victimizations involved violence; about 23% were serious violent crimes.
  • In about 37% of violent hate crimes the offender knew the victim; in violent nonhate crimes, half of all victims knew the offender.
  • Police were notified of fewer than half (45%) of all hate crime victimizations.
  • Eight hate crime homicides (murders/non-negligent manslaughters) occurred in 2009.
  • From 2003 to 2009, no differences were found between hate and nonhate crime in the percentage of violent victimizations involving a weapon or causing injury to the victim.
  • The majority of violent hate crimes were interracial while the majority of nonhate violent crimes were intraracial.
  • Fewer than 1 in 10 hate crime victims stated that the offender left hate symbols at the crime scene; nearly all hate crime victims said that the offender used hate language.

The NCVS and UCR are the two annual sources of information that describe hate crime in the United States. This report presents data on the characteristics of hate crimes and hate crime victims using both of these sources, which present similar pictures of the overall trends in and characteristics of hate crime victimizations. Unless otherwise noted, the information in this report detailing incident and victim characteristics is primarily from the NCVS.

Throughout this report, the terms hate crime and bias-motivated crime are used interchangeably and include violent or property offenses motivated by prejudice against a victim’s race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or disability. The NCVS collects data from the victims about the offenders’ motivation for the hate crime. The survey measures bias motivated by the offender’s assumption that the victim belonged to or was associated with a group largely identified by these characteristics.

Number and rate of hate crime victimizations declined in recent years

A hate crime victimization refers to a single victim or household that experienced a criminal incident suspected to be motivated by hate. For violent crimes (rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault) and for personal larceny, the count of hate crime victimizations is the number of individuals who experienced a violent hate crime. For crimes against households (burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft), each household affected by a hate crime is counted as a single victimization.

Overall the number of hate crime victimizations was lower in 2009 than 2003—down from 239,400 victimizations to 148,400 (table 1). A similar declined occurred in violent hate crime victimizations as well.

From 2003 through 2009, hate crime victimizations accounted for less than 1% of the total victimizations captured by the NCVS. Violent hate crime victimizations accounted for an average of 3.1% of all violent victimizations.

table01

Note: In the NCVS, crime is classified as hate crime if the victim perceived that the offender was motivated by bias because the offender used hate language, left behind hate symbols, or the police investigators confirmed that the incident was a hate crime. See appendix table 2 for standard errors.

aincludes rape/sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault, larceny, burglary, motor vehicle theft, and other theft. bIncludes rape/sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault.

cSee appendix table 1 for number of total victimizations. dRates calculated per 1,000 persons age 12 or older. See appendix table 1 for base population numbers.

eDue to methodological changes in the 2006 NCVS, use caution when comparing 2006 criminal victimization estimates to other years. See Criminal Victimization, 2006, http://www.bjs.gov, for more information.

Source: National Crime Victimization Survey, January 2003 - December 2009.

From 2003 to 2009 the rate of violent hate crime victimizations declined by 37%

From 2003 to 2009, persons age 12 or older experienced an annual average of about 194,800 hate crime victimizations and 179,300 hate crime incidents (table 2). Incidents are distinguished from victimizations in that one criminal incident may have multiple victims or victimizations. Of the hate crime victims, nearly 169,000 (87%) were persons who experienced violent hate crime victimization, and about 24,400 (13%) were households victimized by bias-motivated property crimes.

On average, an annual rate of 0.7 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older were victims of a violent hate crime. An annual rate of 0.2 per 1,000 households experienced a hate-related property crime. The rate of both violent and property hate crime victimizations declined from 2003 to 2009.

table02

Note: In the NCVS, crime is classified as hate crime if the victim perceived that the offender was motivated by bias because the offender used hate language, left behind hate symbols, or the police investigators confirmed that the incident was a hate crime. An incident is a single event that may include multiple victims, while victimization refers to a single victim or household. See appendix table 3 for standard errors.

aIncludes rape/sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault, larceny, burglary, motor vehicle theft, and other theft. bIncludes rape/sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault.

cIncludes burglary, motor vehicle theft, and other theft. dIncludes rape/sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault. Rates calculated per 1,000 persons age 12 or older. See appendix table 1 for base population numbers.

eIncludes burglary, motor vehicle theft, and other theft. Rates calculated per 1,000 households. See appendix table 1 for base population numbers. Source: National Crime Victimization Survey, January 2003 - December 2009.

Offender’s language was evidence that the crime was motivated by hate in most hate crime victimizations

For a crime to be classified as a hate crime in the NCVS, the victim must report at least one of three types of evidence that the act was motivated by hate: the offender used hate language, the offender left behind hate symbols, or police investigators confirmed that the incident was hate crime. Almost all hate crime victims cited the offenders’ use of hate language as evidence that the crime was motivated by hate. From 2003 to 2009, about 98% of all hate crimes and 99% of violent hate crimes involved hate language (table 3). Fewer than 1 in 10 victims reported that the offender left hate symbols at the scene of the crime (9%) or that police investigators confirmed that the crime was hate based (7%).

table03

Note: In the NCVS, crime is classified as hate crime if the victim perceived that the offender was motivated by bias because the offender used hate language, left behind hate symbols, or the police investigators confirmed that the incident was a hate crime. Detail does not sum to 100% due to victims reporting multiple types of evidence that the crime was motivated by hate. See appendix table 4 for standard errors.

*Includes rape/sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault, larceny, burglary, motor vehicle theft, and other theft. Source: National Crime Victimization Survey, January 2003 - December 2009.

Victims suspected that more than half of hate crime victimizations were motivated by racial bias

The NCVS asks hate crime victims the types of bias they suspect motivated the crime. From 2003 to 2009, about 58% of hate crime victimizations were suspected to be motivated by racial bias (figure 2). About a third of victims suspected they were targeted because of their ethnicity (30%), and a quarter said it was because of their associations with persons having particular characteristics (25%). Victims in about 1 in 10 hate crimes suspected the motivation to be bias against the victim’s disability.

In 2009 a smaller percentage of hate crime victims suspected they were targeted because of their associations with persons having particular characteristics, or because of the offender’s perception of their characteristics or religious beliefs, than in 2003 (not shown in table). The percentage of hate crimes in which victims suspected motivation of sexual orientation bias was slightly greater in 2009 than in 2003 (not shown in table).

figure02

Note: Detail does not sum to 100% because victims may have reported more than one type of bias motivating the hate crime. See appendix table 18 for standard errors. Source: National Crime Victimization Survey, January 2003 - December 2009.

More than 4 in 5 hate crime victimizations involved violence

Overall, nearly 87% of hate crimes involved violence, and about 23% were serious violent crimes (rape/sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault) (table 4). In contrast, about 23% of all nonhate crimes involved violence with about 8% classified as serious violent crimes.

From 2003 to 2009, the majority of hate crimes were simple assaults (64%). The next most common type of hate crime was aggravated assault (16%), followed by theft (8%), robbery (6%), and burglary (5%).

No differences were found between hate and nonhate crime in the presence of a weapon or injuries suffered

From 2003 through 2009, no measurable difference was detected in the percentage of offenders who had a weapon in hate and nonhate crime victimizations. About 20% of violent hate crime victims reported that the offender had a weapon (table 5).

More than three-quarters of violent hate crime victims (77%) did not suffer from any injuries during the event. About 20% suffered minor injuries, such as bruises and cuts, and 3% suffered serious injuries such as broken bones, internal injuries, or stabbing or gunshot wounds.

table04

Note: In the NCVS, crime is classified as hate crime if the victim perceived that the offender was motivated by bias because the offender used hate language, left behind hate symbols, or the police investigators confirmed that the incident was a hate crime. See appendix table 5 for standard errors.

! Interpret data with caution; estimate based on 10 or fewer cases, or coefficient of variation is greater than 50%. See Metholodology for standard error computations. --Less than 0.5%. Source: National Crime Victimization Survey, January 2003 - December 2009.

Hate crimes were less likely than nonhate crimes to occur at or near the victim’s home

From 2003 through 2009, about a third of hate crimes (32%) occurred at or near a victim’s home while more than half (57%) of nonhate crime victimizations took place at or around the victim’s home (table 6). A greater percentage of hate crime victims (18%) than nonhate crime victims (9%) said that the victimization occurred at school.

table05

 

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