Are hate crimes decreasing or increasing?
It is difficult to tell if hate crimes are on the rise or on the decline. On the one hand, reporting hate crimes is a voluntary action taken by States and localities. Some States with clear histories of racial prejudice and intolerance have reported zero incidents of hate crimes. At the same time, many victims of hate crimes are often reluctant to come forward -- a direct result of the trauma caused by the crime. Although the Hate Crime Statistics Act was passed in 1990, States have only been collecting and reporting information about these crimes to the FBI since 1991. It appears that for those States and localities that have reported hate crimes, the number of incidences nationwide has continued to hover annually somewhere between 6,000 and 8,500. Again, this may be indicative simply of the reporting or nonreporting trends of different localities. In fact, seven States and the District of Columbia reported fewer than 10 hate crime incidents in 1999, and 8 of the most populous cities in the U.S. did not participate in hate crimes reporting to the FBI at all. Large cities like Miami, Detroit, and New Orleans reported having no hate crime incidents in 1999.