This morning, the FBI released its hate crime statistics for 2006. The report showed a rise of 7.8 percent from 7,163 to 7,722 criminal incidents in 2006 targeting victims or property as a result of bias against a particular race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic or national origin or physical or mental disability.
As in prior years, the data collected by the FBI was severely flawed. Only 12,600 of the nation's more than 17,000 local, county, state and federal police agencies participated in the program. Certain states barely participated. Alabama reported only one hate crime in 2006. Mississippi and Hawaii did not report any hate crimes at all. A major Intelligence Report study released in 2001 that details the problems with the FBI's data can be found here.
Unfortunately, the FBI's data gives a false impression of the level of hate crime in the United States. In fact, the level of hate crimes in the United States is astoundingly high — more than 190,000 incidents per year, according to a 2005 Department of Justice study, which analyzed a more comprehensive data set than that compiled yearly by the FBI.