More than 9,000 offenses in the U.S. in 2008 motivated by bias to particular groups of people were reported to the FBI in 2008, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program that publishes those statistics, the FBI announced today.
The agency reports on hate crimes that are defined as offenses that are "a result of bias toward a particular race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity/national origin, or disability."
The numbers are self-reported to the FBI by local law enforcement agencies. In Indiana, 131 agencies can participate in reporting hate crimes, there are approximately 3 million people represented by those agencies, and 61 hate crimes were reported by 17 participating agencies in 2008.
The full report is available at http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2008/.
Because the data is self-reported and it is up to the discretion of each agency to define what it considers to be a hate crime, the numbers cannot be accurately compared with other states or even other jurisdictions within a state, according to the FBI's report.
For instance, Bloomington reported 29 hate crimes and Indianapolis reported zero.
As for the national statistics, "7,783 criminal incidents involving 9,168 offenses were reported in 2008 as a result of bias toward a particular race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity/national origin, or disability," according to the report.
Through analysis of available national figures, "51.3 percent were motivated by a racial bias, 19.5 percent were motivated by a religious bias, 16.7 percent were motivated by a sexual orientation bias, and 11.5 percent were motivated by an ethnicity/national origin bias. One percent involved a bias against a disability," the report stated.
Of the offenses committed against individuals, "intimidation accounted for 48.8 percent of crimes against persons, simple assaults for 32.1 percent, and aggravated assaults for 18.5 percent. Seven murders were reported as hate crimes," according to the report.
Indiana remains one of a handful of states in the country that does not have a state law regarding hate crimes. However, President Barack Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act Oct. 28 to expand hate crimes legislation for the first time since the mid-1990s.
The act gives the Department of Justice "the power to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence by providing the DOJ with jurisdiction over crimes of violence where a perpetrator has selected a victim because of the person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability," according to a release from the Human Rights Campaign, which advocated for the act to be signed.