Investigation Finds Many Hate Crimes Go Unreported in America

Posted on in Hate Crime Statute

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, Illinois hate crime statutesAccording to the FBI, an average of 5,000 to 7,000 hate crimes are reported each year in America. The bureau defines a hate crime as any criminal offense committed against a person or property that is motivated by a bias against a certain religion, race, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The FBI reports that nearly half of all hate crimes are driven by racial bias, and advocates worry that hate crimes may be increasing due to racial and religious tension in America.

Just over a year ago, nine African American churchgoers were shot in Charleston, South Carolina in a violent attack labeled a hate crime, and other minority groups have seen increased violence lately as well. Muslims say violence against them has risen, and gay and transgender groups report being targets of violence recently as well. Despite hate crimes being handled very seriously by the federal government, an investigation recently conducted by the FBI shows that many local agencies across the country fail to accurately report the number of hate crimes their departments handle each year. Lack of Reporting According to the Associated Press, who conducted the investigation, over 2,700 police and sheriff departments across America have not submitted a hate crime report of any kind to the FBI over the past six years. The bureau encourages all departments to submit hate crime reports annually, even if the number of hate crimes listed is zero. Submitting annual reports, the FBI says, shows that communities are taking hate crimes seriously, even if they report zero hate crimes occurred. Those 2,700 departments that have not submitted reports in six years make up 17 percent of all law enforcement agencies nationwide, meaning the number of hate crimes in America could be significantly higher than reported, and the problems do not stop there. On top of the 2,700 some agencies that have failed to file a hate crime report of any kind over the past few years, many other agencies across the country have other reporting problems. Some agencies report some years, and then fail to do so other years. Other agencies report hate crimes for part of the year but not all of it. Many local agencies say they believed they were reporting, or following FBI protocol, when in fact they were not. While the FBI strongly encourages any law enforcement agency empowered to make an arrest to submit hate crime numbers annually, it is voluntary, and FBI officials are working on increased training to ensure departments do start reporting or do a better job of reporting. Of the agencies that did not report at all, many represented small towns of a few thousand people or less, but some were surprisingly in larger, more heavily populated areas with  histories of racial issues such as Birmingham, Alabama; Jackson, Mississippi; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Advocates say that it is not just law enforcement agencies that are failing at identifying and reporting hate crimes. Victims often do not report hate crimes committed against them for reasons including fear of retaliation against them, fear of lack of support from law enforcement, or fear that the incident was a personal or private matter. The Sikh community, for example, is often confused with Muslims because they wear similar head coverings. Some Sikh community members say that their community fears reporting hate crimes because increased attention may draw more violence towards them. Fighting a Hate Crime Charge

If you are facing hate crime charges, you need the help of an experienced Chicago area criminal defense attorney. Hate crime charges are very serious, and your freedom and reputation could be at stake. Serious charges require serious legal expertise. At the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney, Attorney Garfinkel and his team have extensive experience with the federal court system, and can help make sure your rights are protected during your case. Call 312-629-0669 today to schedule a free consultation with us to learn more.


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