Hate Crime Investigations and Offender Profiles: A National Survey of U.S. Law Enforcement Agencies

Background:

Over 7,000 victims of hate crimes were reported by law enforcement agencies (LEAs) in 2016 as a part of the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program in the U.S. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2017), including bias-motivated intimidation, simple assault, aggravated assault, and property crime. National data on hate crimes has improved since Congress passed the 1990 Hate Crime Statistics Act (28 U.S.C. § 534). However, reporting problems program remain an issue and additional methodologies are needed to supplement knowledge on hate crimes known to police, including more reliable statistics on who commits hate crimes and how investigations and prosecutions can be improved.

Methodology:

The three-year study (2019-2021) used a methodology employed in several prior studies with LEAs, achieving high response rates. We collected mail survey data from a national sample of 3,000 agencies on hate crime investigations occurring in calendar year 2018. We followed the mail surveys with in-depth telephone interviews with investigators and prosecutors on a nationally representative sample of cases (1,500).

This study is funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) (2018-MU-MU-0029) https://nij.ojp.gov/funding/awards/2018-mu-mu-0029 

Goals and Objectives:

Specifically, the study was designed to provide data on the following questions:

  • What are the rates and characteristics of hate crimes coming to criminal justice attention in the U.S., and what percentage of hate crimes reported to law enforcement end in arrest?
  • Which agency-level policies are in place across the country that affect how decisions are made by law enforcement officers to identify and document bias crimes, and how do those policies vary by region and agency size?
  • Using a representative sample of hate crime incidents known to police collected from across the U.S., what offender typologies can be identified, and how do they vary by offender and incident characteristics and case outcomes?
  • What types of investigative practices are used to document bias in hate crime investigations, and which are associated with higher arrest and conviction rates?
  • What prosecution strategies are connected with successful prosecution of hate crimes in the U.S.

Project Status and Information for Participants

Data collection for this study is completed. For questions about the study please email us at HC-LEA-Jones@unh.edu. For participants who would like more information about ethical oversight of research at UNH or rights of research subjects, please see https://www.unh.edu/research/human-subjects for contact information.

Research Team

Lisa Jones, PhD (Principal Investigator)
Kimberly Mitchell, PhD (Co-Investigator)
Heather Turner, PhD (Co-Investigator)
Lisa Cloyd (Research Assistant, Lead)
Leanne Gast (Research Assistant)
Megan Rue (Research Assistant)
Gina Kahn (Research Assistant)

Contact

Lisa Jones
RESEARCH ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR
Phone: (603) 862-2515
Office: Family Research Lab, 10 West Edge Drive, Durham, NH 03824

Kimberly Mitchell
RESEARCH PROFESSOR
Phone: (603) 862-4533
Office: Crimes Against Children Research Center, 10 West Edge Drive Rm 106, Durham, NH 03824

Heather Turner
PROFESSOR
Phone: (603) 862-3670
Office: Sociology, McConnell Hall Rm 125C, Durham, NH 03824