The number of reported hate crime incidents and victims decreased in 2009, according to the FBI Hate Crime Statistics report [materials; press release] released Monday. The number of reported incidents was down to 6,604 from 7,783 in 2008, while the number of reported victims was down to 8,336 from 9,691. Of these incidents, 61 percent were against persons, while the remaining percentage were directed towards property, numbers that were consistent with the 2008 report [JURIST report]. For the both years, more than half of the hate crimes reported were racially motivated, while religious belief was the next largest targeted category. Although there was an increase in the number of federal agencies providing data, preventing an exact comparison of 2008 and 2009 statistics, the FBI [official website] is confident that its increased efforts in investigating hate crimes have brought about positive change. Special Agent Cynthia Deitle, the head of the FBI civil rights program in Washington, DC, said [press release]:
During 2010, the FBI devoted additional resources to combat hate crime in those cities most at risk for bias-motivated violence. Working in collaboration with state and local law enforcement agencies, as well as our non-governmental partners, we are confident we can mitigate the risks and impact hate crimes have on individuals and communities.The FBI also cited additions to the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crime Prevention Act [text; JURIST news archive] as positive improvements that will aid FBI investigation of hate crimes.
In June, Canadian police reported a 35 percent increase in hate crimes [JURIST report] from 2007 to 2008. Conversely, Russian racial hate crimes decreased slightly in 2009 [JURIST report] because of increased police efforts, according to a report from the SOVA Center [advocacy website] in January. In December, the US Department of Justice [official websites] announced plans to increase its efforts to prosecute hate crimes [JURIST report].