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Hate crimes in state hold steady

POSTED August 19, 2011 7:56 p.m.

The overall number of reported hate crimes in California stayed relatively unchanged in 2010, but the number of anti-Hispanic crimes rose sharply, according to a new report from the Attorney General’s Office.

“Hate Crimes in California 2010” shows a small increase of 0.6 percent in the number of hate crime events in 2010 from the year prior. California Penal Code defines a hate crime as “a criminal act committed, in whole or in part, because of one or more of the following actual or perceived characteristics of the victim: disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.”

There were 1,107 hate crime events reported statewide in 2010 and 1,100 reported in 2009.

The number of hate crime offenses decreased by 0.1 percent, from 1,427 in 2009 to 1,425 in 2010, according to the report’s data.

A hate crime event can encompass crime reports or other sources that document some type of hate crime occurrence. It can include one or more offenses, suspects, and victims. An offense refers to the actually recorded criminal act, such as murder, assault, vandalism, etc.

Among the hate crime offenses violent crime fell 1.4 percent from 906 in 2009 to 893 in 2010. Property crime offenses increased 2.5 percent, rising to 532 in 2010 from 519 in 2009.

The number of victims reporting hate crimes decreased by one in 2010 to 1,320 from 1,321 in 2009, according to the data.

Among the report’s hate crime categories, anti-Hispanic crimes saw the sole increase. Anti-Hispanic hate crimes increased 46.9 percent, from 81 in 2009 to 119 in 2010.  Anti-Jewish hate crimes decreased by 20 percent from the previous year, anti-black crimes decreased by 13.8 percent, and anti-gay crimes decreased by 10.8 percent.

The data from the report shows that hate crimes based on race, ethnicity, and national origin were the most common type of hate crime reported since 2001, accounting for almost 60 percent of all hate crime events. Hate crimes with a sexual orientation bias were second, followed by hate crimes with a religious bias as motivation.

In Stanislaus County there were a total of 13 hate crime events and 14 offenses reported in 2010. Within those offenses there were 14 victims and 10 suspects.

In 2010, Turlock had two hate crime offenses with two victims and four suspects.

A total of 361 hate crime cases were referred to prosecutors in 2010, fewer than the 479 cases referred in 2009. Of the 361 criminal cases that were filed, 230 were hate crimes. Of the 166 hate crimes with dispositions in 2010, there were 151 convictions of which 70 were for hate crimes and 81 were for other convictions.

"A crime that is motivated by hate is a crime against all people," Attorney General Kamala Harris said. "We will monitor and prosecute these cases to the fullest extent of the law."

The report was accumulated using data collection programs developed by the California Department of Justice, police agencies, and district attorney's offices in all of the state's 58 counties.

The hate crime reporting system was implemented by the Department of Justice in 1994. Law enforcement agencies are required to submit copies of initial crime reports to the department, and each agency has established procedures incorporating a two-tier review process. The first level is done by the initial officer who responded to the suspected hate crime incident. Then each report is reviewed by at least one other officer to confirm that the event was, in fact, a hate crime.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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