The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

DOJ Study Finds Decline in Hate Crimes Over Last Decade

By Mark Potok on June 17, 2011 - 2:45 pm, Posted in Hate Crime

The Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday released a major new report showing that hate crimes have decreased nationally since 2003 — a trend that mirrors a general drop in all kinds of violent crime over the same period.

The study by the DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) was based on detailed surveys of a statistically representative sample of the population. It found an annual average of 195,000 hate crime victimizations between 2003 and 2009, with the numbers bouncing around from year to year but declining overall, from 239,400 in 2003 to 148,400 in 2009. An earlier BJS study, using the same survey methodology but examining hate crimes during the 2000-2003 period, found an average of 210,000 hate crime victimizations per year.

The decline, Northeastern University criminology professor and hate crimes expert Jack McDevitt told Hatewatch, follows a similar national decline in violent crime overall. The apparent reasons for that decline, which likely apply to hate crimes as well, include the shrinking of the national population of 16- to 24-year-olds, who are by far the most crime-prone population cohort; the rise of effective community policing strategies around the country; and the diminished use of particularly crime-associated drugs like crack cocaine and methamphetamines, he said.

The FBI each year publishes the number of hate crimes reported by law enforcement departments to the states, which then report to the FBI. But those numbers have always been small — between about 6,000 and 10,000 a year, depending on the year. When the BJS published its first study based on victimization surveys, examining the 2000-2003 period, it showed for the first time that the real level of hate crime was almost certainly vastly higher than the FBI national statistics suggested.

McDevitt said that although the numbers based on the victimization surveys are considered more accurate than those reported by police departments — in part, because they include crimes never reported to authorities — they are still only an estimate based on a fairly small sample. But he said he has been independently studying the statistics recently, and has seen a similar drop in hate crimes over recent years, although a drop less precipitous than that of violent crime overall.

McDevitt added that the fact that the two BJS studies had similar findings — the earlier study, for instance, found that 56% of hate crimes were not reported to police, while yesterday’s found that number was 55% — added to his confidence level. “So we know there are a lot of unreported hate crimes,” he said. “I just wouldn’t hang my hat on either set of numbers definitively, the BJS or the FBI numbers. But I do think that between those two, the real level is closer to the BJS numbers.”

The new report included several other interesting findings:

  • Violence was involved in far higher percentage of hate crimes than non-hate crimes — 87% compared to 23%. The earlier BJS study found a similar trend.
  • Hate crime victims knew their victimizers 37% of the time, compared to the 50% of non-hate crime victims who knew their victimizers.
  • The rate of violent hate crime victimizations declined from 0.8 per 1,000 persons in 2003 to 0.5 per 1,000 persons in 2009.
  • Between 2003 and 2009, on average, 18% of hate crime victimizations occurred at school. Another 32% occurred at or near victims’ homes, while 24% occurred in a street, parking lot or on public transportation.
  • The majority of violent hate crimes were interracial, while the majority of non-hate crime violent crimes were intraracial. In a related finding, nearly 90% of hate crimes victimizations during the 2003-2009 period were perceived by their victims to be racially or ethnically motivated.
  • ruben

    shadow wolf…..how would you know what mestizos claim or not claim to be?…….and if not blood then what makes a person indigenous to a continent?…it seems that you are contradicting yourself here….if blood does not make you a native to this continent then i guess being a native wannabe does according to your opinion……you rail against whites in your opening post then you go on and pretty much say that only the indigenous people that are inside the borders (u.s ) that these same whites that you are upset with put up should be considered native. first you rail against then you agree with them a lot of flip flopping on your behalf…..i would think that any borders or barriers that the europeans put up you would consider illegitamate…..in mexico and much of latin america many mestizos and full bloods continue to live the way they have since before the arrival of the europeans the natives here in the u.s both full blood and mixed don’t they have adopted more of the white mans way so to speak, so who is acting more white?

  • Mitch Beales

    Shadow Wolf you can read the report at http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/hc0309.pdf. It appears to include statistics for “American Indian/Alaskan Native.” While there appear to be statistical problems with interpreting the hate crime data for this group the more alarming statistic is the fact that 4.6% of this group are victims of violent crime, exceeded only by multiracial victims (mestizos?) :-) with a rate of 6.4%.

    Your sweeping generalization that all mestizos are “white wannabes” seems not only inaccurate but downright racist. Judging by appearances many “latinos” are entirely descended from indigenous people.

    “Well, if I can get the fat to hatin’ the lean
    That’d tickle me more than anything I’ve seen,
    Then get the colors to fightin’ one another,
    And friend against friend, and brother… and sister against brother,
    That’ll be just it.” -Woody Guthrie

  • Shadow Wolf

    @venomlash,
    You want some “information”? Try googling up some instances. Type in anti-Indian sentiments in Rapid City(“Border Towns”) or Navajo Victim of a Hate Crime in Farminington, NM(one of the recent cases). These are some of the examples that can defined as such, under the guidelines of a Hate Crime law.

    @ruben,
    Mesitzos are not indigenous no matter how you want to portray them, not by a long shot. Certainly not by culture. It has nothing to do with “blood”. If you are claiming to be a “Mestizo”, you should know that they do not regard or seen themselves as such. They rather be seen as White. Sad but true.

  • venomlash

    Can you give us a citation, Shadow Wolf? I’m not calling you a liar, I’m just looking for information here.

  • Linnea

    A good question, Shadow Wolf. I’m also curious…

  • ruben

    shadow wolf…..most latinos are mestizo and have as much indigenous blood running through there veins as you.

  • Shadow Wolf

    Atrocious hatecrimes committed on Natives by Whites are also not reported as such. I wonder why. Perhaps the hatecrime law is specifically meant for Gays, Blacks, Jews and Latinos?