Bias crime more likely in time of fear and suspicion

Bias Crime Reporting

Sources: Uniform Crime Reporting Program, Hate Crime Statistics, 2014 (Washington, D.C.: FBI, 2015); M. Meuchel Wilson, Hate Crime Victimization, 2004-2012 – Statistical Tables (Washington, D.C., Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2014 NCJ 244409); Corcoran, H., D. Lader and K. Smith Hate Crime, England and Wales,2014/15, (London: The Home Office of the United Kingdom, Statistical Bulletin 05/15/2015).

With funding from the National Institute of Justice and in partnership with organizations in Los Angeles County, California and the State of New Jersey, Vera will study experiences of bias victimization and develop a practical tool that can be used by law enforcement, community groups, and educational institutions to better respond to bias crime. Starting in January 2016, Vera will collect information from bias crime and community experts, students, and other youth and adult members of under-identified Latino, immigrant, and LGBT communities through focus groups, interviews, and surveys.

The resulting tool, available by the end of 2017, will help to better identify bias crime victims; improve data reporting, education, and institutional responses; reduce reporting barriers for victims; and foster more effective service provision. (This project is a collaboration between Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections (CSC) and Center on Immigration and Justice (CIJ), with Laura Simich, Richard Andrew Powell, and Karen Mallozzi joining me on the research team.)

The numbers of anti-Muslim bias crimes are likely to climb even higher in the coming months. These fear-based reactions, along with the stigma placed on Muslims, refugees from the Middle East and North Africa, and others, are likely to increase the gap between police-reported crimes and the estimated hundreds of thousands of victims indicated. With Vera’s new tool, we hope to meaningfully contribute to the work that needs to be done to promote safety and improve the community and criminal justice response to these victims in the United States.