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ICAAD works to remove each brick to illuminate our common humanity"

Hate Crimes


Under the current Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), only 3% percent of all hate crimes are documented through the UCR Program. In 2012, the UCR reported 7,713 victims of hate crimes, whereas, the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) reported on average 259,700 hate crimes a year from 2007-2011. The 34 fold gap in documenting hate crimes reveals systemic flaws that result in the government failing to devote adequate resources: to train police officers in properly identifying bias indicators in crime, and to protect particularly vulnerable communities from hate crimes.

According to NCVS, 65% of all hate crime victimizations are never reported to the police. Many of the reasons stem from mistrust of law enforcement to: investigate their claim thoroughly, prosecute the case as a hate crime, prevent retaliation, and not use their position to deport victims who lack legal immigrant status. Moreover, as there is no federal mandate to ensure recording of hate crimes by local law enforcement jurisdictions, reporting is voluntary. As a result of the combination of voluntary reporting with a failure to adequately train police officers to identify bias indicators in crime, there is little chance that the scope of violence directed at vulnerable communities will be understood. Ultimately, the culture of a police department can be a strong determinant on whether hate crimes documentation is seen by police officers as necessary to protect vulnerable communities or functions to support the “agendas of gay and minority groups.”

ICAAD has advocated directly before the U.S. government on this issue and filed a number of reports to the UN Human Rights Committee and treaty body review committees on these concerns.

Problem Space

The FBI UCR data masks a widespread problem of reporting hate crimes under the Hate Crimes Statistics Act (HCSA). Under the UCR, the FBI recorded 5,796 bias-motivated incidents which resulted in 7,164 victims in 2012.[1] Out of the 13,022 jurisdictions that participated in the program covering 248,809,710 people, 86.2% of agencies reported zero hate crimes.[2] “This does not mean that they failed to report; rather, they affirmatively reported to the FBI that no hate crimes occurred in their jurisdiction.”[3] Further, in 43 of those jurisdictions, the population exceeds 100,000 people.[4] Breaking this down, jurisdictions representing the equivalent of almost a third (76,542,952) of the U.S. population, reported zero hate crimes.

How is this possible? The FBI, in fact, has never reported more than 10,000 hate crimes in any given year.[5] In contrast, the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS)[6] 2013 Special Report on hate crime victimizations, relying on data from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), found that from 2007-2011 an average of 259,700 hate crime victimizations occurred each year.[7] In 2003-2009, the NCVS reported 195,000 hate crimes per year.[8] Clearly, the FBIs UCR data accounts for only a marginal number of bias-motivated crimes (3%) in the U.S. The variance between the UCR and NCVS represents a 34-fold gap.

The NCVS has overcome some of the limitations of survey methodology through the use of “representative sampling on a national level in a longitudinal or repeated cross-sectional design.”[9] Furthermore, scholars have found that because the data is gathered from households

where victimizations happened within the last six months, the NCVS data “provides a more direct check on the true amount of crime, [and therefore] it is considered superior to the UCR for this purpose.”[10]

A big part of the data gap, as revealed by the NCVS, is that law enforcement was not notified about hate crime victimizations in 65% of the cases documented by NCVS.[11] The fact that two-thirds of victims don’t report to the police suggests a larger systemic problem, which we address in the following section. However, even if we take into account that almost two-thirds of victims or bystanders never reported hate crimes to the police, it still leaves us with an average of over 90,000 hate crimes per year that were reported to law enforcement. Thus, the gap in underreporting by local agencies to the FBI is still greater than 10 fold.

[1] FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR), Hate Crime Incident Report, available at: http://www.fbi.gov/about- us/cjis/ucr/reporting-forms/hate-crime-incident-report-pdf.

[2] FBI Uniform Crime Reports, 2012 Hate Crimes Statistics, http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/hate-crime/2012

[3] Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Hate Crimes in America: The Nature and Magnitude of the Problem, http://www.civilrights.org/publications/hatecrimes/nature–‐and–‐magnitude.html.

[4] See Hate Crime Statistics 2012, Hate Crime by Jurisdiction, at Table 14, available at: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/hate-crime/2012/tables-and-data-declarations/14tabledatadecpdf/table_14_hate_crime_zero_data_submitted_per_quarter_by_ state_and_agency_2012.xls/view

[5] The FBI data on hate crimes is available from 1996 onward. See Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice, Uniform Crime Reports: UCR Publications, http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/ucr- publications#Hate.

[6] The BJS is a division of the Department of Justice, part of the Executive Branch of government.

[7] Nathan Sandholtz, et al., U.S. Dep’t. Of Justice, Hate Crime Victimization, 2003-2011, 4 (Mar. 2013), http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/hcv0311.pdf. note 18, at 1.

[8] Lynn Langton, et al., U.S. Dep’t. of Justice, Hate Crime Victimization, 2003-2009, 1 (June 2011), available at: http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/hc0309.pdf.

[9] Michael Shively, Study of Literature And Legislation On Hate Crimes In America, Abt Associates, Inc., 3 (March 31, 2005), https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/210300.pdf.

[10] Peter P. Lynch, et al., Understanding Crime Statistics: Revisiting the Divergence of NCVS and UCR, Cambridge University Press, 269 (2007).

[11] Id. at 5.


The U.S. federal government should:

  • Mandate reporting of hate crimes at the state level, so that local jurisdictions are compelled to accurately reflect the number of hate crimes in their jurisdiction;
  • Require law enforcement agencies to provide both quarterly and full year data on hate crimes, rather than having the FBI apply estimation analysis UCR data;
  • Mandate law enforcement training for all new recruits regarding investigating and reporting hate crimes. Follow up training should be conducted periodically;
  • Allocate sufficient resources to states to provide comprehensive training for officers to identify bias indicators in crime and incorporate hate crimes investigation procedures in Patrol Guides used by law enforcement;
  • “Support research assessing the prevalence, incidence, predictors, and outcomes of hate crimes, as well as the psychological impact of hate crimes on victims, their families, and the community.”[1]
  • Encourage states to include voluntarily provided victim demographics including age, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, and religion in hate crimes data collection efforts. Victims, should at a minimum, have the dignity to be counted and not excluded because the perpetrator(s) perceived target group is different than the victim’s group;
  • Revitalize collaboration between Hate Crimes Task Forces and civil society in every major city across the nation;
  • Have the FBI and local law enforcement bridge the hate crimes documentation gap by working with a broad coalition of stakeholders, including civil society, to identify innovative solutions for more robust data collection; recognizing that combating hate crimes must be a shared burden;
  • Strengthen DHS and FBI monitoring of non-Islamic extremist groups and keep vulnerable communities and civil society informed of potential threats;
  • Use Behavioral Threat Assessments (BTAs) to identify individuals or groups who display supremacist ideology to prevent bias-motivated crimes against vulnerable communities;
  • Ensure robust enforcement by having the DOJ file appropriate cases under HCPA; vigorously defend the constitutionality of the Act; and ensure continued education, outreach, and training to federal, state, and local law enforcement officials on HCPA and its requirements.

[1] American Psychological Association, supra note 17.


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