California State Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced recently that hate crime offenses in California declined by 4.5 percent in 2005 compared to 2004, dropping from 1,770 to 1,691.
“This is the fourth consecutive year that the number of hate crime offenses has decreased, and the 10-year data shows that the number of offenses and victims are at their lowest levels,” Lockyer said.
“The decreases reflect the hard work of law enforcement and our communities to stamp out these intolerable, bias-motivated crimes,” he said. “ The encouraging numbers also show that Californians continue to choose understanding and tolerance over prejudice and hate.”
In addition to hate crime offenses reported by law enforcement agencies, “Hate Crime in California: 2005” shows hate crime events decreased slightly (0.9 percent) in 2005, declining to 1,397 from 1,491 in 2004.
Hate crime events can include more than one hate crime offense or more than one victim. The 2005 report also showed the number of victims of reported hate crimes decreased 5.8 percent, from 1,741 in 2004 to 1,640 in 2005. Violent hate crime offenses decreased 3.4 percent from 1,135 in 2004 to 1,096, while property offenses declined 6.3 percent from 635 in 2004 to 595.
Bias based on race/ethnicity/ national origin motivated 1,137 of hate crime offenses in 2005, or 67.2 percent of the total reported, and 916 hate crime events, or 65.6 percent of the total.
The 2005 numbers in those two categories are consistent with the 10-year trend shown in the report. Race/ethnicity/national origin hate crime offenses accounted for at least 60 percent of all hate crime offenses reported from 1996-2005, followed by sexual orientation, at 17 percent.
While most hate crime events motivated by race/ethnicity/national origin bias declined in 2005, the report showed a troubling increase in three categories.
Anti-Hispanic hate crime events increased 6.5 percent from 2004 to 2005, from 138 to 147. Anti-white and anti-multiple-race hate crime events also increased 26.2 percent and 35.6 percent, respectively.
The report shows a total of 448 hate crime cases that were referred to prosecutors statewide.
Of the 396 (88.4 percent) cases prosecuted by district attorneys and city attorneys, 330 (83.3 percent) were filed as hate crimes and 66 (16.7 percent) were filed as non-bias-motivated crimes. Of the 274 criminal cases concluded in 2005, 137 (50 percent), resulted in a hate crime conviction.
California Penal Code section 13023 defines hate crimes as “any criminal acts or attempted criminal acts to cause physical injury, emotional suffering, or property damage where there is a reasonable cause to believe that the crime was motivated, in whole or in part, by the victim’s race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, or physical or mental disability.”
State law requires all law enforcement agencies to report such crimes to the Attorney General’s office.
Practical guides on the reporting of hate crimes have been prepared in nine languages and are distributed through the Attorney General’s Office of Immigrant Assistance.
These guides can also be viewed on the sttorney heneral’s website at: http://ag.ca.gov/immigrant/publications.htm .