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Why legal reforms are the best solution to hate crimes.


Whylegal reforms are the best solution to hate crimes.

Currently,hate crime is an issue of concern to the stakeholders in the criminaljudicial system, legislation, the society at large. According toSprigg (1) hate crime can be defined as an offense in which theoffender selects a victim intentionally or a property that isperceived to be the object of the crime in the case of a propertycrime, because of perceived or actual color, race, nationality,gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or disability. Thisimplies that victims of hate crime are selected by criminals on thebasis of their personal characteristics. Although hate crimes havebeen in place for many years, research shows that this category ofoffenses has been increasing steadily. For example, about 42,236cases of hate crimes were recorded in the United Kingdom between 2012and 2013 (Barker 1). This means that a viable solution to this typeof crime has been found to date. The formulation of tighterlegislations can help in preventing hate crime, punishing, andcorrecting the hate crime offenders.

Peopleaffected by hate crime and the responsible authorities

Hatecrimes affect the vulnerable groups in the society, especially themembers of the minority groups. According to Barker (1) about 85 % ofhate crime cases reported in between 2012 and 2013 were based onracial hatred, 10 % sexual orientation hatred, 4 % religious hatred,4 % disability hatred, and 1 % of the cases were based on transgenderhatred. Controlling the prevalence of hate crime is theresponsibility of different bodies (including the legislation,police, courts, and the society) that should work interdependentlyfor successful deterrent of this type of crime.


Theformulation of appropriate laws can enhance the capacity of thecriminal judicial system to handle cases of hate crime in ways thatwill reduce the probability of occurrence in the future. Currentlydifferent states and countries have enacted different legalapproaches to deal with this type of crime, but these laws areineffective. Research shows that the existing laws differ by statesand protect victims in a selective way. For example, the current lawsof the United States fail to offer sufficient protection to gays,lesbian, and members of the Lambda Legal Defense (Bronski 1). Thiscalls for the enactment of effective laws that will address theinterests of all vulnerable groups and ensure their legal protection.

Cleardefinition of hate crime in the legal context

Aclear definition of hate crime, which is consistent and agreed uponby all the legal enforcers, can help in the establishment of clearcut boundaries and the determination of which actions, omissions, orwords constitute the hate crime. In the case of the United States,laws that focus on hate crime provides multiple definitions of hatecrime at state, federal, and local level, which leads toinconsistence in the enforcement of these laws (Anti-DefamationLeague 2). Laws that provide a consistent definition of hate crimewill eliminate the gray areas ad contradictions with other sets oflaw. For example, the law provides Americans with the freedom tobelieve and think in what way they want. In this case, anti-hatecrime laws should allow people to believe and think freely, but witha condition that their beliefs and thinking are not biased in termsof personal characteristics. The definition of hate crime will formthe basis of other laws for deterrent, punishment, and correction ofoffenders.

Lawsto deter the occurrence of hate crimes

Thestakeholders in the legislative sector should give priority to lawsthat aim at crime prevention. The formulation of effective lawsrequires a regular review of existing laws in order to integrateemerging challenges, which can ensure that the most vulnerable groupsare protected. New formulated and amended laws can prevent crime intwo ways. First, the laws should require public institutions(including schools) to collect and analyze data on incidents of hatecrimes. This can help in early detection of abnormal trends anddevelop preventive strategies in time. Secondly, overly restrictionsfor federal involvement in hate crimes should be removed(Anti-Defamation League 11). This will permit federal officials tointervene and prosecute hate criminals in cases where the localauthority is unable or unwilling to render justice to victims ofhatred. In addition, the removal of current overly obstacles thatreduces the involvement of federal officials in hate crimes willprovide an opportunity for them to offer forensic and technicalassistance to law enforcers at state and local levels. This willensure that investigations as well as prosecution are done in time,thus creating an assurance to potential hate criminals that they willface the law in case they commit crime.

Lawsfor punishment of hate crime offenders

Legislationis the most appropriate tool to confront and deter offenses that arebased on prejudice. According to the Anti-Defamation League (3) lawshas the capacity to shape attitude of offenders and this makes legalmeasure suitable for the punishment of hate criminals. In this case,punishment should not be perceived to be a way of harassing the hateoffenders, but as a means of showing them their wrongness, theseriousness of their offenses, and the need to avoid hatred. This canbe achieved if legislators are able to perceive and acknowledge thathate violence results in uniquely serious effects on the communitythat make it deserve substantial punishment. Consequently, thelawmakers should enact laws that give penalties that are commensuratewith the hate crime committed. However, the laws should protectindividuals’ right to think and believe freely by requiring thathate crime be proven beyond reasonable doubt by showing that thevictims were targeted on the basis of their personal characteristics.In addition, legal provisions that giving a punishment that isslightly above for hate crimes than other categories of crime canreduce the rate at which hate crime is increasing.

Thenewly formulated anti-hate crime laws should address all categoriesof bias in order to ensure that hate crimes are addressed intotality. Study shows that the present penalty enhancement laws arebeing used in different states only focus on some types of hatred(including religion, race, ethnicity, and national origin) andexclude other such as sexual orientation (Anti-Defamation League 4).The study also shows that only 31 states in the United Statesconsider sexual orientation in their hate offense statutes, only 26include gender-based offenses, only 9 consider gender identity crime,and only 30 disability-based crime (Anti-Defamation League 4). Thisshows that current laws contain gaps that prevent the courts fromrendering sufficient punishment to hate criminals of some categoriesdepending on their statutes of their respective states. Consequently,comprehensive laws need to be formulated to fill this gap and ensurethe rights of all vulnerable groups are protected by the law and hatecriminals of all categories are given punishments that arecommensurate to their offenses. This can be accomplished by amendingthe current statutes to ensure that they cover all types of hatecrimes.

Integrationof hate crime in the constitution

Theconstitution acts the template on which the suitability of all otherlaws is assessed. Although frequent amendment of the constitution maynot be possible, the increases in cases in which theconstitutionality of the anti-hate crime legislations are challengedwarrants, especially in the United States warrants the amendment ofthe constitution. For example, a bill crime bill that was brought tothe house in 2009 with the objective of increasing the prison timefor people who are found guilty of committing violent acts on thebasis of gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability wasfound to be unconstitutional (Hentoff 1). This implies that theconstitution fails to capture emerging legal challenges and should beamended to enhance its relevance.


Thelaw exists to protect the rights of all people living under a givenjurisdiction. This implies that the relevance of a given set of lawcan be judged on the basis of its capacity to prevent theinfringement of the rights of both the majority and the minoritygroups. Based on this notion, it is clear that the current anti-hatecrime laws are irrelevant, given the fact that incidents of hatecrime have been increasing constantly. Amending these laws andensuring their enforcement is the best way to ensure that the rightsof vulnerable groups are protected. This is because failure toaddress the issue of hate crime through the legal means can motivatethe vulnerable groups to defend themselves, which can result inserious crisis.


Anti-DefamationLeague. Hatecrime laws: The ADL approach.New York: Anti-Defamation League, 2012. Print.

Barker,N. and Green, D. Reducing and preventing crime. Governmentof UK.2014. Web. 6 April 2014.

Bronski,M., Pellegrini, A. and Amico, M. Hate crime laws don’t preventviolence against LGBT people. TheNation.20 May. 2013. Web. 6 April 2014.

Hentoff,N. Hatecrime bill goes against constitution.Washington, DC: Cato Institute, 2009. Web.

Sprigg,P. Whatare hate crimes?Washington, DC: Family Research Council, 2001. Web.