JURIST Supported by the University of Pittsburgh

HOTLINE BUZZ
Real-time comments on legal news by newsmakers, activists, legal experts and special guests...

 Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hate crimes are likely underreported despite documented increase
10:11 AM ET

Eugene O'Donnell [Lecturer, John Jay College of Criminal Justice]: "One of the paradoxes of crime reporting is that statistics sometimes decline when there is little expectation that law enforcement will treat a crime report seriously. Thus, the reported crime rate in some of the nation's largest cities may well be higher than officially reported due to lack of public confidence in the police and low expectations about the services they deliver.

There can be little doubt that hate crimes are underreported, perhaps dramatically so. Many law enforcement agencies, even those that take these matters seriously, are still wrestling with how to classify and handle hate-related complaints. It also can't be ignored that the motivations of assailants are not always made explicitly clear or are easy to discern.

Whether or not someone philosophically believes in enhanced punishment for hate crimes, I can certainly say that the New York city experience, though surely not typical of the American experience, is that hate crimes that are reported to the police are treated with the utmost seriousness. Police officers and superior officers are expected to handle these matters with urgency, empathy and professionalism. This official proscription against intolerant actions can create a more just and less divided national atmosphere, something that is maybe even more important during difficult economic times, when some may be tempted to scapegoat others for their own limited successes."


Opinions expressed in JURIST's Hotline are the sole responsibility of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of JURIST's editors, staff, or the University of Pittsburgh.



Link | how to subscribe | © JURIST


LATEST COMMENTS

 Stevens opinion contains seeds of victory for animal welfare movement
May 5, 2010

 Spain leads way in effort to resettle Guantanamo detainees
May 5, 2010

 click for more...

CONTACT

E-mail your comments on this blog or anything else on JURIST to JURIST@jurist.org