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Hate Crimes Reported in NIBRS, 1997-99

Sunday, September 23, 2001 202/307-0784


WASHINGTON, D.C. - Almost 3,000 of the approximately 5.4 million criminal victimizations reported to police from 1997 through 1999 in more than a dozen states were considered to be hate crimes, according to a new study published today by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). Hate crimes, or bias-motivated crimes, are defined as offenses motivated by hatred against a victim based on his or her race, religion, sexual orientation, handicap, ethnicity or national origin.

Of the 2,976 incidents police departments reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) for those three years that were attributed to hatred, 1,820 were attributed to racial bias (61 percent), 431 to religious bigotry (14 percent), 379 to sexual orientation (13 percent), 329 to ethnicity (11 percent) and 17 to physical or mental disabilities (less than 1 percent).

In 60 percent of the hate crime incidents the most serious offense was a violent crime - most commonly intimidation or simple assault. Aggravated assault was the most serious offense reported in 13 percent of the incidents. In almost 40 percent of the incidents the most serious offense was a property crime, 73 percent of which was damage, destruction or vandalism.

Among racially-motivated bias incidents, 6 in 10 targeted blacks, 3 in 10 targeted whites, and the remainder targeted Asians or American Indians. In incidents involving religious bias, 41 percent targeted Jewish victims and 31 percent targeted unspecified religious groups.

More than half of violent hate crime victims were 24 years old or younger and almost a third were younger than age 18. Hate crime offenders also tended to be younger. Thirty-one percent of violent hate crime offenders, and 46 percent of property offenders were under 18 years old.

Thirty-two percent of the reported hate crimes occurred in a residence, 28 percent in an open space, 19 percent in a retail or other commercial establishment or building, 12 percent at a school or college and 3 percent in a church, synagogue or temple.

Hate crimes were committed mostly against one or more individuals (84 percent), as opposed to business or financial institutions (6 percent), governments (4 percent), religious organizations (2 percent) or society or the general public (2 percent).

Of the 2,204 persons who were violent hate crime victims, 3 were murdered, 4 abducted or kidnaped, 17 sexually assaulted, 42 robbed and 2,138 assaulted (504 aggravated, 815 simple and 819 intimidated).

On July 1, 2000, BJS added new questions to its National Crime Victimization Survey to uncover hate crimes that go unreported to law enforcement agencies. Preliminary data from the first six months of this data indicate that the majority of hate crimes are not reported to police, as is true of crimes in general.

The Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-275) requires the collection and analysis of data on reported hate crimes. The FBI, in partnership with local law enforcement agencies, began the collection of such incidents and published annual reports as part of the Uniform Crime Reporting Program. In recent years, many law enforcement agencies have begun to report hate crime data through NIBRS, which is a more detailed reporting system with the ability to capture a wide range of information on specific incidents. In 1999, 3,396 agencies from 17 states representing 13 percent of the U.S. population submitted NIBRS data to the FBI.

The special report, "Hate Crimes Reported in NIBRS, 1997-99" (NCJ-186765), was written by BJS statistician Kevin J. Strom. Single copies may be obtained by calling the BJS clearinghouse number: 1-800-851-3420. Fax orders for mail delivery to 410/792-4358. After the release date the data will be available at:

After the release date these materials will be available at:


The BJS Internet site is:


Additional criminal justice materials can be obtained from the Office of Justice Programs homepage at:


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E-mail: [email protected]
After hours contact: Stu Smith at 301/983-9354

Date Published: September 30, 2001