INDIANAPOLIS – The Center for Research on Inclusion and Social Policy at the Indiana University Public Policy Institute is releasing new data analysis on bias crimes and homicide charges. This information comes in light of the looming political debate on a potential hate crimes bill in the Indiana legislature.
In its report, CRISP researchers found:
- While bias crime charges are more likely to be filed in states with existing bias crimes statutes that specify affected victim groups, charges relating to bias are not sought in many of those cases.
- Even in states where victim groups had equal statutory protection, prosecutors did not seek bias charges equitably among victim groups.
- The majority of bias homicides did not involve official bias crime charges.
- Anti-sexual orientation/gender identity and anti-race/ethnicity account for the majority of bias homicides.
- Anti-sexual orientation/gender identity homicides are disproportionately less likely than other groups to be officially prosecuted as bias crimes.
The findings have policy implications that policymakers should consider.
First, the effectiveness of bias crime legislation should be further evaluated for impact and operation. There is scholarly debate on whether bias crimes legislation serves as a deterrent to future bias crimes.
Second, bias crimes occur more often than official crime data suggests. For this reason, collection of data is crucial to accurately understanding and preventing bias crimes.
Finally, prior research affirms greater negative consequences for victims of crimes motivated by bias. Despite this research, statutes typically do not include a support system for victims or witnesses of bias crimes.
“Our team’s findings suggest that fully addressing bias-related crimes in an equitable way is complicated,” said Breanca Merritt, director of CRISP. “Yet a bill can include language that both helps potential victims while increasing knowledge for policymakers. Including language that calls for continued assessment of a hate crimes bill and support for victim groups could better inform policymakers long-term.”
CRISP’s research examined data from the Bias Homicide Database created by Jeff Gruenewald, Ph.D. in Criminal Justice, at the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI. The BHDB collects data on bias homicides nationwide dating back to 1990. For a homicide to be included in the database, it must meet observable inclusion criteria.