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Hate Crime in California 1995

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. Message from the Attorney General
II. Introduction
III. Background
IV. Methodology
V. Policing Agency Data

VI. Prosecution Data

VIII. Data Information and limitations
  • A. Law Enforcement
  • B. District Attorneys
  • C. City Attorneys
VIII. Guidelines for the Identification of Hate Crimes

IX. Laws and Reporting Information

I. Message from the Attorney General

1995 marks the first complete year that California has collected statewide data to document the number of crimes committed each year motivated by the victims' race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or physical or mental disability. We commonly refer to these acts as "hate crimes," and with good reason. They are crimes which are committed with the particularly ugly notion in mind that the victim is less of a human being than the perpetrator, that by virtue of mere individual differences, the victim is not entitled to the protection of the rights enshrined in our Constitution for all men and women.

Those who are victimized by hate crimes suffer enormous pain. The damage extends, however, to our whole society as well. This is especially true for California, our nation's most diverse state.

Local law enforcement agencies are responding to this problem through increased community interaction and community-oriented policing strategies. In August 1995 I established the Anti-Hate Violence Project, which allows local agencies which may lack sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against a person for an alleged hate crime, to bring a civil lawsuit through the Attorney General's Civil Rights Enforcement Unit. Combined with the state's tough sentencing enhancements for those convicted of hate-motivated felonies and the "Three Strikes and You're Out" law, we have every reason to hope that California will continue to be a place where respect for all people is protected.

California's modern heritage is one in which diversity is respected, not scorned. As long as hate crimes continue to counter that heritage, the men and women of law enforcement are pledged to intercede on behalf of all Californians.

Daniel E. Lungren
Attorney General

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II. Introduction

California Penal Code Section 13023 requires the attorney general to submit an annual report to the Legislature regarding crimes motivated by the victim's race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or physical or mental disability as reported by law enforcement agencies. Data collection began in the fall of 1994 after an orientation and training period. Agencies were requested to identify and submit all reports of bias-motivated crime occurring on or after July 1, 1994 to the Department of Justice. In 1995 the Department of Justice published the first report covering the reporting of July through December 1994. This is the first full-year report and covers the period January 1 through December 31, 1995.

Since this is a new program and long-term comparative information is not available, caution is advised when interpreting the data. As program participants gain experience in identifying, documenting, interpreting, aggregating and displaying the information, statistical data will become available that will provide a basis for annual trend analysis and policy development.

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III. Background

In January 1986, the California Department of Justice (DOJ) submitted a report to the Legislature in response to Senate Bill 2080 (Watson). This report, entitled Racial, Ethnic, and Religious Crime Project, Preliminary Steps to Establish Statewide Collection of Data, recommended:

  • DOJ be designated as the appropriate state agency to implement and coordinate statewide bias-motivated crime data collection.
  • Law enforcement agencies submit existing crime reports identified as bias-motivated to DOJ.
  • Uniform definitions and guidelines be established to ensure reliable and consistent identification of bias-motivated crimes.
  • Adequate funding be provided for data collection and local law enforcement agency training.

Senate Bill 202 (Watson) was chaptered in 1989. The bill added Section 13023 to the Penal Code requiring the attorney general, subject to the availability of funding, to begin collecting and reporting bias-motivated crime information.

The federal "Hate Crime Statistics Act", Public Law 101-275 which became law on April 23, 1990, required the United States attorney general to collect bias-motivated crime information. The FBI began collecting the data from volunteer agencies in 1991. The first report was published in 1992.

After funding for the California program was obtained, agencies were notified by Information Bulletin 94-25-OMET issued September 30, 1994 to begin reporting bias-motivated crimes to DOJ.

Information Bulletin 95-09-BCIA, issued March 24, 1995, requested California district attorneys to report information on complaints filed and convictions for bias-motivated crimes on a standard form.

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IV. Methodology

Following the recommendations in the 1986 report, DOJ requires each law enforcement agency in the state to submit copies of bias-motivated crime reports on a monthly basis. To ensure relevancy to the subject matter, DOJ requests that each agency establish a two-tier review process of possible bias-motivated incidents before reports are forwarded.

Reports received by DOJ are reviewed by at least two members of the bias-motivated crime unit before the data are included in the aggregate reports. All crime reports that meet the bias-motiviated criteria are coded in a standard format by DOJ staff. If the report is not complete or if it appears that the incident is not bias-motivated, the agency is notified.

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V. Policing Agency Data

A. DEFINITIONS

  1. BIAS - A preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of persons based on their race, religion, ethnicity/national origin, sexual orientation and/or physical/mental disability.
  2. RACIAL BIAS - A preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of persons (e.g., Asian, blacks, whites, etc.) based on common physical characteristics (e.g., color of skin, eyes, and/or hair, facial features, etc.).
  3. ETHNIC BIAS - A preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of persons of the same race or national origin that share common or similar traits such as languages, customs, and traditions (e.g., Arabs, Hispanics, etc.).
  4. RELIGIOUS BIAS - A preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of persons that share the same religious beliefs regarding the origin and purpose of the universe and the existence or nonexistence of a supreme being (e.g., Catholics, Jews, Protestants, Atheists, etc.).
  5. SEXUAL-ORIENTATION BIAS - A preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of persons based on sexual preferences and/or attractions toward and responsiveness to members of their own or opposite sexes.
  6. PHYSICAL/MENTAL DISABILITY BIAS - A preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of persons based on physical or mental impediments/challenges, whether such disabilities are congenital or acquired by heredity, accident, injury, advanced age, or illness.
  7. EVENT - An event is an occurrence where a hate crime is involved. In this report the information about the event is a crime report or source document that meets the criteria for a hate crime. There may be one or more suspects involved, one or more victims targeted, and one or more offenses involved for each event.
  8. OFFENSES - Offenses that are recorded are: murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, simple assault, intimidation, and destruction/damage/vandalism as defined in the national Uniform Crime Report (UCR) and the national Hate Crimes Statistics Report.
  9. VIOLENT CRIMES - Murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault and initimidation are considered violent crimes in this report. (Robbery is included in crimes against property in the FBI's Hate Crimes Statistics Report.)
  10. PROPERTY CRIMES - Burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, and destruction/vandalism are reported as property crimes.
  11. VICTIM - A victim may be an individual, a business or financial institution, an organization or the society/public in general. For example, if a church or synagogue is vandalized and/or desecrated, the victim would be a religious organization.
  12. KNOWN SUSPECT(S) - A suspect can be any person alleged to have committed a criminal act(s) or attempted a criminal act(s) to cause physical injury, emotional suffering, or property damage. The known suspect category contains the number of suspects that have been identified and/or alleged to have committed hate crimes as stated in the crime report. For example, witnesses observe three suspects fleeing the scene of a crime. The word "known" does not necessarily refer to specific identities.
  13. LOCATION - The place where the hate crime event occurred. The location categories follow UCR location specifications. Examples are residence, hotel, bar, church, etc.

B. HIGHLIGHTS

  • For 1995, the Department of Justice received reports detailing 1,754 hate crime events. Included in these events were 1,965 offenses, 2,626 victims, and 2,225 known suspects.(See Tables 1 through 3.)
  • 69.3 percent of the events occurred because of the race/ethnicity of the victim. See Table 1).
  • Violent crimes accounted for 78.2 percent of known offenses. (See Table 2).
  • 35.0 percent of the hate crimes occurred at a residence or the home of the victim. (See Table 3).

C. DATA TABLES

Policing Agency Data Tables (Tables 1 through 7).

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VI. Prosecution Data

A. DEFINITIONS

  1. RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN "COMPLAINTS FILED" AND "CONVICTIONS" - The annual survey questionnaire used to collect these data, reports the total number of hate crime cases filed and the total number of hate crime convictions. There is no direct relationship, since a case may be filed in one period and the trial outcome may occur in another.
  2. CASE - A case is a set of facts about a crime that is referred to a district attorney for filing with a court. The case may charge one or more persons with the commission of one or more offenses. For this report, the case must contain some element of bias.
  3. COMPLAINTS FILED - Any verified written accusation, filed by a district attorney with a criminal court, that charges one or more persons with the commission of one or more offenses. For this report, the case must contain some element of bias.
  4. CONVICTION - A conviction is a judgment based either on the verdict of a jury or a judicial officer or on a guilty plea of the defendant.
  5. GUILTY PLEA - A guilty plea or answer by a person accused of a crime which indicates that he or she is guilty of the crime with which he or she is charged.
  6. NOLO CONTENDERE - A plea or answer in a criminal action in which the accused does not admit guilt but agrees to be subject to the same punishment as if he or she were guilty.
  7. TRIAL VERDICT - The finding or answer of a jury or judge concerning a matter submitted to them for their judgment.

B. DATA TABLES

Prosecution Data Tables (Tables 8 and 9).

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VII. Data Information and Limitations

A. LAW ENFORCEMENT

Local law enforcement agencies are required to submit monthly copies of hate crime reports to the Department of Justice (DOJ) in compliance with Section 13023 of the Penal Code which states ". . . any criminal acts or attempted criminal acts to cause physical injury, emotional suffering, or property damage where there is a reasonable cause to believe that the crime was motivated, in whole or in part, by the victim's race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disability . . ." shall be reported to DOJ.

In 1995, the Bias-Motivated Crime File contained a total of 1,754 events defined as bias-motivated crimes received from reporting California law enforcement agencies.

The following information and limitations should be considered when using the bias-motivated crime data:

  1. The hate crime reporting system was implemented by DOJ in September 1994. Law enforcement agencies were requested to submit copies of initial crime reports beginning with July 1994. Crime reports that were submitted as bias-motivated but later determined to be unfounded were not included.
  2. Initial crime reports were selected as the reporting document to provide maximum information for coding and to minimize the workload impact on local law enforcement agencies.
  3. The aggregated data are designed to identify the motivation of the perpetrator of the crime. Due to the subjectivity that may be involved in identifying motivation, caution is advised in interpreting the data.
  4. The data differ somewhat from that collected by the FBI for the National Program (Public Law 101-275-April 23, 1990). Physical or mental disability are not a part of the FBI definition of a bias-motivated crime but are included in the definition in California legislation (P.C. 13023).
  5. The Department of Justice requested that each law enforcement agency establish procedures incorporating a two-tier review (decision making) process. The first level is done by the initial officer who responds to the suspected hate crime incident. At the second level, each report is reviewed by at least one other officer to confirm that the incident was, in fact, a bias-motivated crime.
  6. Caution should be used when making jurisdictional comparisons. Factors to be considered are: cultural diversity and population density, effective strength of law enforcement agencies, and training in identification of hate crimes by law enforcement.
  7. The Department of Justice shall submit to the Legislature the results of the information obtained from law enforcement agencies.
  8. All requests or questions regarding these data should be submitted to the Criminal Justice Statistics Center, P.O. Box 903427, Sacramento, California 94203-4270.

B. DISTRICT ATTORNEYS

The 1995 District Attorney's Report File of Hate Crime Cases contains a total of 146 complaints filed, and 83 convictions. Thirty-four district attorneys had no hate crime cases filed by their offices during the period.

The following information and limitations should be considered when interpreting the bias-motivated cases:

  1. In order to show the criminal justice system's response to bias-motivated crimes, in March of 1995, the attorney general requested all district attorneys to submit summary data of complaints filed and convictions.
  2. The 1995 District Attorney's Report File of Bias-Motivated Cases contains summary data based on filings and convictions which occurred between January 1, 1995 through December 31, 1995.
  3. This summary case file contains only the number of bias-motivated cases for which complaints were filed by the district attorneys, not the number of bias-motivated cases referred to the district attorneys.
  4. All requests or questions regarding these data should be submitted to the Criminal Justice Statistics Center, P.O. Box 903427, Sacramento, California 94203-4270.

C. CITY ATTORNEYS

There are nine elected city attorneys in California. Eight out of the nine prosecute misdemeanor bias-motivated cases.

The following information and limitations should be considered when interpreting and using the city attorney's summary report of bias-motivated cases:

  1. In order to show the criminal justice system's response to bias-motivated crimes, in March of 1995, the hate crime unit at DOJ requested all elected city attorneys to submit summary data of bias-motivated crime complaints filed and convictions.
  2. The 1995 City Attorney's Report File of Bias-Motivated Cases contains summary data based on filings and convictions which occurred between January 1, 1995 through December 31, 1995.
  3. All requests or questions regarding these data should be submitted to the Criminal Justice Statistics Center, P.O. Box 903427, Sacramento, California 94203-4270.

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VIII. Guidelines for the Identification of Hate Crimes

A reportable hate crime is any criminal act or attempted criminal act to cause physical injury, emotional suffering, or property damage which is or appears to be motivated, all or in part, by the victim's race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability.

Initial review of a suspected hate crime should consider the following factors:

  • Is the motivation of the offender known?
  • Are the victim and the offender from different racial, religious, ethnic, sexual orientation, or is the victim targeted because of his or her physical or mental disability?
  • Were any racial, religious, ethnic, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability bias remarks made by the offender?
  • Were there any offensive symbols, words or acts that are known to represent a hate group or other evidence of bias against the victim's group?
  • Does the victim perceive the action of the offender to have been motivated by bias?
  • Did the incident occur on a holiday or other day of significance to the victim's group or the offender's group?
  • What do the demographics of the area tell you about the indident ­ was the victim in an area where the predominant population is dissimilar to the victim's group?
  • Is there no clear other motivation for the incident?

Second-level review before making the final determination of whether an incident was motivated by bias:

  • Is the victim a member of a targeted racial, religious, ethnic, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability group?
  • Has the victim or victim's group been subjected to repeat attacks of a similar nature?
  • Does a substantial portion of the community where the crime occurred perceive that the incident was motivated by bias?
  • Would the incident have taken place if the victim and offender were the same race, religion, ethnic group, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability?

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IX. Laws and Reporting Information

Laws and regulations governing the reporting of hate crimes in California are as follows:

  • California Penal Code Section 13023.
  • Senate Bill No. 2080, Chapter 1482 (Sept. 25, 1984).
  • Public Law 101-275 (April 23, 1990).
  • Department of Justice Information Bulletin #94-25 (Sept. 30, 1994).
  • Department of Justice Information Bulletin #95-09 (March 24, 1995).

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