American Journal of Criminal Justice

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 876–900 | Cite as

The Effect of Law on Hate Crime Reporting: The Case of Racial and Ethnic Violence



Drawing on Jenness and Grattet’s (2001) typology of hate crime law as well as theories about the relationship between minority group status and victimization, this analysis examines how different definitions of hate crime produce variation in the reported prevalence of anti-racial and anti-ethnic hate crime. This study uses data from the Uniform Crime Reports and a panel modeling structure to examine the factors that contribute to reported anti-Black and anti-Hispanic hate crime levels. It was hypothesized that broader hate crime definitions would result in greater levels of reported hate crime; however, the results suggest that the definition of hate crime influences the reported prevalence of anti-Hispanic hate crime, but that variation in law does not affect anti-Black hate crime once demographic and other structural characteristics are taken into account. Future research and policy should consider how these differences in definition could influence the handling of hate crime cases at all levels.


Hate crime Law Minority threat Race Ethnicity 


  1. ADL. (2011). Anti-defamation league state hate crime statutory provisions. Retrieved, December 5, 2011, from
  2. Baumer, E., Rosenfeld, R., & Messner, S. (2003). Explaining spatial variation in support for capital punishment. American Journal of Sociology, 108, 844–875.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blalock, H. M. (1967). Toward a theory of minority-group relations. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  4. FBI. (2001). Hate Crime Statistics, 2001. U.S. Department of Justice.Google Scholar
  5. FBI. (2014). Data quality guidelines. U.S. Department of Justice.Google Scholar
  6. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). (2000). Crime in the United States, 2000. U.S. Department of Justice.Google Scholar
  7. Grattet, R., & Jenness, V. (2008). Transforming symbolic law into organizational action: hate crime policy and law enforcement practice. Social Forces, 87, 501–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Grattet, R., Jenness, V., & Curry, T. (1998). The homogenization and differentiation of ‘hate crime’ law in the U.S., 1978–1995: an analysis of innovation and diffusion in the criminalization of bigotry. American Sociological Review, 63, 286–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Green, D. P., Strolovitch, D. Z., & Wong, J. S. (1998). Defended neighborhoods, integration, and racially motivated crime. American Journal of Sociology, 104, 372–403.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Green, D. P., Strolovitch, D. Z., Wong, J. S., & Bailey, R. W. (2001). Measuring gay populations and antigay hate crime. Social Science Quarterly, 82, 281–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Jacobs, D., & Carmichael, J. T. (2002). The political sociology of the deal penalty: a pooled time-series analysis. American Sociological Review, 67, 109–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Jacobs, D., & Helms, R. (1999). Collective outbursts, politics, and punitive resources. Social Forces, 77, 1497–1524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Jacobs, J. B., & Potter, K. (1998). Hate crimes: criminal law and identity politics. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. James N. & Council, L. R. (2008). How crime in the United States is measured. CRS Report for Congress. Order Code RL34309.Google Scholar
  15. Jenness, V., & Grattet, R. (2001). Making hate a crime: from social movement to law enforcement. New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
  16. King, R. D. (2007). The context of minority group threat: race, institutions, and complying with hate crime law. Law and Society Review, 41, 189–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. King, R. D., & Brustein, W. I. (2006). A political threat model of intergroup violence: Jews in pre-World War II Germany. Criminology, 44, 867–891.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. King, R. D., Messner, S. F., & Baller, R. D. (2009). Contemporary hate crimes, law enforcement, and the legacy of racial violence. American Sociological Review, 74, 291–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lawrence, F. M. (1999). Punishing Hate: Bias crime under American law. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Levin, B. (2001). Extremism and the constitution: how America’s legal evolution affects the response to extremism. American Behavioral Scientist, 45, 714–756.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Liang, K., & Zeger, S. L. (1986). Longitudinal data analysis using generalized linear models. Biometrika, 73, 13–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lyon, C. J. (2008). Defending turf: racial demographics and hate crime against Blacks and Whites. Social Forces, 87, 357–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lyons, C. J. (2007). Community (dis)organization and racially motivated crime. American Journal of Sociology, 113, 815–863.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. McDevitt, J., Balboni, J. M., Bennett, S., Weiss, J. C., Orchowsky, S., & Walbolt, L. (2003). Improving the quality and accuracy of bias crime statistics nationally: an assessment of the first ten years of bias crime data collection. In B. Perry (Ed.), Hate and bias crime: A reader. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  25. Messner, S. F., McHugh, S., & Felson, R. B. (2004). Distinctive characteristics of assaults motivated by bias. Criminology, 42, 585–618.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Nolan, J. J., & Akiyama, Y. (1999). An analysis of factors that affect law enforcement participation in hate crime reporting. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 15, 111–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Nolan, J. J., Akiyama, Y., & Berhanu, S. (2002). The hate crime statistics act of 1990. American Behavioral Scientist, 46, 136–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Stacey, M., Carbone-Lopez, K., & Rosenfeld, R. (2011). Demographic change and ethnically motivated crime: the impact of immigration on anti-Hispanic hate crime in the United States. Journal of Comparative Criminal Justice, 27, 278–298.Google Scholar
  29. Wooldridge, J. M. (2002). Econometric analysis of cross section and panel data. Cambridge: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  30. Zeger, S. L., & Liang, K. (1986). Longitudinal data analysis for discrete and continuous outcomes. Biometrics, 42, 121–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Statutes Cited

  1. Delaware 11 Del. C §1304 (1995).Google Scholar
  2. Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990, 28 U.S.C.A. §534 (1990).Google Scholar
  3. Hate Crime Sentencing Enhancement Act of 1994, 28 U.S.C.A §994 (1994).Google Scholar
  4. Michigan Penal Code §750.1476 (1988)Google Scholar
  5. New Jersey Stat. §2C 16-1 (1995).Google Scholar
  6. Oregon Rev. Stat. §166.155 (1981).Google Scholar
  7. Oregon Rev. Stat. §166.165 (1981).Google Scholar
  8. Tennessee Code Ann. §39-17-309(a) (1989).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Southern Criminal Justice Association 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Criminal Justice, College of Human EcologyEast Carolina UniversityGreenvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations