Hate Crime Laws Essay

2348 words - 10 pages

On June 7, 1998, 49-year-old James Byrd Jr. of Texas accepted a ride from three white men, who then beat him severely, urinated on him, chained him by his ankles to the back of their pick-up truck, dragged him for three miles into the countryside, and dumped his corpse in front of an African-American cemetery (Graczyk). A little over a year later, a jury sentenced ring leader John King to death by lethal injection (“Man Executed for Dragging Death of James Byrd”). While this particular case may give the appearance that perpetrators of hate crimes receive appropriate punishment, almost a decade later, one particular case demonstrates the inequity in the application of hate crime ...view middle of the document...

8% of which were motivated by race, 19.7% by religious prejudice, 18.5%by sexual orientation, 11.8% by ethnicity, and 1.5% by disability bias (Hate Crime Statistics, 2009). Recently, the FBI released the 2010 statistics that unfortunately reveal a slight increase in the number of hate crime incidents: 6,628 incidents were reported in 2010, 47.3% of which were motivated by race, 20% by religious prejudice, 19.3% by sexual orientation, 12.8% by ethnicity, and .6% by disability bias (Hate Crime Statistics, 2010). While racially-motivated and disability-motivated crimes appear to have decreased, hate crime motivated by religion, sexual orientation, and ethnicity has risen in the last year. Improvements in hate crime laws and punishments are necessary in order for these statistics to decrease.

The pie charts above illustrate how the hate crime laws are not making a difference. Hate crime incidents went up from 6,604 to 6,628 in only a year. Hate crimes against ethnicity, sexual orientation, and religion prejudice went up while hate crimes against race and disability went down.
The hate crime legislations in the United States need to clearly define and identify hate crimes. Title 18 of the United States Code allows prosecutors to prosecute anyone who intentionally injures, intimidate, interferes with someone else, or attempts to do so, by force because of a person’s race, color, religions, or national origin (18 USC.Sec. 245. 13 Oct 2011). They forgot to protect gender or sexuality like being homosexual, transgender, or cross dresser and a lot more. They finally decided to mention sexual orientation in the Title 28 of the United States Code (28 USC.Sec. 534. 31 Oct 2011).
The Hate crime laws are too general it’s hard for prosecutors to decide if they have enough evidence to pursue a hate crime charge. Deputy Dist. Atty. Tom Glazer stated, “There are many obstacles to prosecution. Suspects are not always identified, many incidents are not actual crimes, and it is often difficult to prove the bias motivated an illegal act” (Lynch). In one incident, a group of young people shouted racial insults before beating and stabbing Ruben Charles Vaughan III 7 times. Vaughan and his family wanted to file hate crime charges against two defendants, and they were supported by Africa American and Latino activists. Even Judge Pamela L. Iles of the Municipal Court in Laguna Niguel tried to persuade prosecutors into filing hate crime charges against the defendants, but the prosecutors decided that there wasn’t enough evidence to verify a hate crime. The case angered many activists in the community. “Dist. Atty. Michael R. Capizzi should prove his dedication to fighting hate crimes by allowing juries to decide the issue,”said Eugene Wheeler president of 100 Black Men of Orange County (Lynch). Apparently, shouting racial insults prior to attacking someone is not enough evidence to support a hate crime charge.
In addition to needing to more clearly define and...

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