Feb 29, 2008

do hate crime enhancements deter crime?

If they do, I can't find any good research that proves it.

Consider the DOJ's own report, "A Policymaker's Guide to Hate Crimes." [pdf] Even if the numbers, nationally, appear to follow any sort of trend since the inception of hate crime enhancements, any potential causality is likely ruled out by intervening variables--population growth, other anti-crime legislation, differences in enforcement, and differences in data gathering. The latter is even more complicated:
...even if all States were reporting these incidents it would be difficult to gauge the level of the hate crime problem in this country because bias-motivated crimes typically are underreported by both law enforcement agencies and victims.
I'm still searching, though. If you find quality research done in the past couple years that shows a clear effect, send it along. Otherwise, unless you have good data, stay away from the deterrence argument on the Neg for the current resolution.


Anonymous said...

I don't know how you all are looking at it, but I would say that depending on your advantages (for the neg) it doesn't really matter, as long as the one committing the hate crime can be stopped from doing so again for a longer period

Anonymous said...

This is what I found..I don't know if it helps much though: D. How Will We Know if Bias-Crime Laws Are "Working"? How Do We Measure Success?
Bias-crime legislation must be more than merely a symbolic expression of legislative recognition of a problem to be a proper exercise of the legislative function. It is therefore appropriate to ask what the measurable goals of a bias-crime law are, to then determine whether or not the law is working to achieve those goals.

To a certain extent, the question whether any criminal law is effective turns on the underlying justification for criminal punishment upon which one relies. A consequentialist will presumably articulate a goal of crime reduction, and will accordingly attempt to measure bias-crime levels after the enactment and implementation of a bias-crime law. A retributivist will ask a different set of more overtly normative questions about whether bias criminals deserve greater punishment than those who commit parallel crimes.

The authors agree, although not for precisely the same reasons, that consequentialist justifications for bias-crime laws are problematic. When it comes to bias crimes, incidence data are seriously flawed. Data compiled by local law enforcement agencies both for their own purposes and for reporting to the Department of Justice pursuant to the federal Hate Crimes Statistics Act[101] suffer from dramatic underreporting, for which there are systemic reasons.[102] At the same time, the reporting of bias crimes may increase as the problem of bias-motivated violence is better understood, with the numbers measuring less the level of the problem than the level of our awareness of the problem. Gellman argues above


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that regardless of the statistics, supporters can and do argue that bias-crime law was effective, but Lawrence would contend, and Gellman concedes, that opponents can and do similarly make an argument that bias-crime law was not effective, whatever the data appear to indicate. Lawrence in turn concedes that the data that do exist have not demonstrated an effective deterrent effect of bias-crime laws.

The authors agree, although Gellman somewhat reluctantly, that the best answer to the question of how we will know if bias-crime laws are working is to be found in the recognition that, at least for now, we enact criminal laws not only to reduce crime, but also to punish criminal wrongs, and that this punishment may or may not lead to a reduction in crime at any given time. Bias crimes may thus be better understood from the perspective of a harms-based retributive punishment theory. So understood, the justification for bias-crime laws does not require a largely futile effort to determine whether at any particular time levels of bias crimes are rising or falling, or whether we are merely becoming more adept at measuring what, undoubtedly for some time yet to come, will be very hard to measure.

le radical galoisien said...

I'm becoming increasingly convinced that Neg doesn't have a real case.

Of course, I tend towards a utilitarian and social contract analysis for a value clash but at least with the death penalty with you had a clear-cut case for retributivism and proportional punishment.

For this case, I'm finding it hard-pressed to argue how it's proportional for a racist murder to be more severely punished than a psychopath murder. The racist can be corrected and rehabilitated -- the psychopath can't. In fact, I want to ask this in cross-ex so bad.

Of course, I haven't had the chance to do a full LD since I finished the last resolution (damn my state's rural backwardness). Are there any LD debates that occur through web conferencing?

Jim Anderson said...

le radical, most of the proportionality arguments I heard this past weekend revolved around the extra harm done to specific communities through the expression of hate--"fear and terror" cases. Judges seemed to find this line of argument quite persuasive.

Jim Anderson said...

Oh, and as to your question: I don't know, but it sounds like a great idea. I wouldn't mind having one of my debaters clash with you over the internets. It'd be fun and illuminating. Know of a good, free software platform?

le radical galoisien said...

Free as in beer (or lunch, to be school-appropriate), or free as in freedom? ;-)

If we're talking about gratis, the fastest way to do it would be to use MSN and other stuff that comes bundled with Windows. There's also skype.

How critical is the visual feed, too? It was really a wild thought, but now since you do propose it, I wonder how you can have something like "don't stare at your opponent, look at the judge(s)" during C-X when both are likely to be on your computer screen (or on a projector display).

Anyway, the "damage done to communities" is one of the arguments I do somewhat buy into, I am trying to resolve how this is a unique harm posed by hate crime. A psychopath, a school shooting, etc. can all send messages of hate and fear.

Furthermore, is this chilling effect quantifiable? Is the damage equivalent to an extra decade or two of the perp's life? If there is no clear deterrent effect on other racists, isn't this more like making a general scapegoat out of the perp for the failure of general society to deal with greater racism?

Two contrasting scenarios:

Hispanic gang member beats up black guy, in continuation of an ethnic feud going on between two 'hoods.

A psychopath serial-killer-in-the-making beats up guy for his own sick demented pleasure, cuz he's a sadist.

In the first scenario, the community has a sick feeling in its stomach, and I won't dispute there won't be a chilling effect as people go, "wow, this thing is worse than we thought" and the two races become more distrustful of each other, where parents tell their children to be wary of those from another race. (Indeed, this is a convincing argument initially.)

In the second scenario, there can too be a general aversion caused to the community, as a community becomes fearful. My first argument is that a chilling effect is not unique to HCE. However this is not a primary argument as I will accept the argument that HCE has an especially malicious chilling effect (being afraid to go out of your house for a few weeks is less damaging than breeding a generation of resentment and hate).

My second and more major argument is this -- I question whether the racially-motivated perp should be personally responsible for the ethnic conflict that really should be shared by the whole society. The perp is responsible for the individual crime, but not for the general hostile climate that bred the hate (which in fact, bred his hate).

I do suppose you could distinguish between two sorts of racially-motivated crimes -- one where the perp sought to actively engineer hatred and discord among a community, and one where the perp was simply continuing an existing ethnic feud. In the second scenario, there might be a general feeling of "war" between two groups, such that it might be "my dad was killed by whites, so now I pick fights with other whites.

In fact, I think this is where mens rea might come in. My argument is that the "fear and terror" can only be a sufficient rationale for an increase in penalty if there is a mens rea behind that additional effect.

So, the four categories (borrowing from a Wikipedia analogy)

* knowing that one's actions will cause hatred, fear and discord, and does the hate crime with the willful objective of causing the maximum amount of such discord (intention)

* knowing that one's actions will almost certainly result in perpetuating fear and hatred among the community, but going ahead anyway (oblique intention)

* Not really caring whether one's actions causes hatred and discord (recklessness)

* Not knowing an action will cause hatred and fear to perpetuate among a community (criminal negligence)

Some thoughts:

1) Do you really need HCEs, since I can reanalyse the needed consequences using other laws?

2) How many hate crimes are committed with willful intention of causing hatred among a community?

3) Since many HCE laws don't factor this analysis into the idea (e.g. they seem to assume that ALL hate crimes are committed with the willful intention of causing hatred and terror on others besides the victim), is HCE just? If HCE were reformed to deal with this, would it lead to the issue described by 1)?

My argument is that current HCE laws would prosecute many perps who didn't actively seek to perpetuate hate among a community -- he was just out for revenge, looking for easy pickings, etc.

On the other hand, my mens rea analysis (I think hate-motivation is really the motive -- as the term "motivation" might imply, as opposed to the mens rea -- although HC might be unique in the sense that it's one of the rare crimes where motive has an effect on damage caused) does allow for Aff to argue that HCE laws can be reformed and there can be an "ideal" HCE law (would this be within the scope of the resolution, restricted by the term, "In the United States?) that would allow for this analysis.

le radical galoisien said...

One thing that doesn't seem to be mentioned explicitly yet is the self-perpetuating nature of racism -- it is somewhat like a contagious disease.

This can strengthen Aff's case, because as I have mentioned, a hate crime can sow seeds of discord in a community and cause previously non-racist individuals to develop race-motivated hatred, perpetuating a cycle of violence (as we see in some Middle Eastern conflicts).

But a lot of bigots are not actively seeking to perpetuate this disease -- they may be hateful, but it may be along the lines of, "What do you think you're doing in our neighbourhood" as opposed to, "I want to send a message to all members of race X!" Can it then be just to punish them for causing a collective effect?

Anonymous said...

I heard this at Districts, should have been ready for it:

I use Kant's CI and universiality to say that since HCE aren't applied universally and the sentencing is arbitrary, HCE are unjust.

My opponent asked me if anything can be applied universally. I said yes. She then asked what... I answered with a not applicable non coherent sentence to the effect of "anything".

So, what can be applied universally?

Jim Anderson said...

Kant said that lying was universally forbidden, among other things. Dig deeper into Kant's CI, and you'll find 'em.

KSM179 said...

i found really good cards/evidence on how HCEs DON'T deter. type in hate crimes gerstenfeld into google and click on the first link. also lots of other good aff arguments. (Even though neg is harder anyway)

Anonymous said...

Im in hurry mode to get my cases done and I was wondering what you think a good aff VC would be?

okie debater said...

I've already debated this topic at 1 tournament, but both my Aff and Neg each went 1W-1L, so I'm rewriting (especially since I'll be going up against the same super-team of about 12 debaters). I'm also trying to write several cases for each side. Any suggestions would be great!

Affirmative #1:
V: Justice
Cr: Equal Treatment under the Law ("all men are created equal" and 14th Amendment relates to "in the United States")

C1: Hate crimes are inadequately defined
-no consensus (shown by differing laws between states, federal gov't...)
-would be either too broad or too narrow (either all crimes will qualify, or there will be many unprotected minorities)
-they are vague (leaving a loophole for prosecutorial abuse, shown in C3)

C2: Motive can't be proven sufficiently to support hate crime enhancements
-even if the defendant showed prejudice in the past, that doesn't mean the actual crime was motivated by prejudice
-even if the criminal yelled derogatory words during the crime, even that doesn't necessarily indicate prejudice, just anger

C3: Hate crime enhancements are used unjustly
-as a result of the difficult burden of proof in C2, prosecutors don't always use HCE, even when applicable, thereby violating my Cr. of Equal Treatment
-HCE are used disproportionately against minorities, indicated that they may have become a tool for prejudiced people, rather than a deterrent

Affirmative #2
V: Justice
Cr: John Locke (government is established to protect the rights of its citizens)

C1: Hate crime enhancements are unnecessary
-regular punishment is sufficient to protect the rights of citizens because punishment, even without HCE, increases to reflect the severity of the crime

C2: Hate crime enhancements are ineffective
-they have not shown any significant deterrent effect
-they are even used to disproportionately to prosecute minorities (which they are apparently made to protect)

C3: Hate crime enhancements are used unjustly
-they are not always applied, even when they are applicable
-they do increase the amount of punishment in an unjust way (Even if a hate crime is worse, does it merit doubling punishment? Also, could we really determine how MUCH worse a hate crime is?)

okie debater said...


Possible Observations:
-occasional abuse of hate crime enhancements is insufficient to label them unjust. We must examine hate crime enhancements as a whole, instead of judging a rule by the exceptions.

-Hate crimes enhancements are both legal and constitutional (Mitchell v. Wisconsin)

-Not all crimes are hate crimes (this came up several rounds that I've seen)

Negative #1
V: Justice
Cr: Retributivism

C1: Hate crimes are worse than parallel crimes
-often brutal and depraved
-cause more harm to the community and overall society

C2: HCE recognize the more dangerous nature of hate crimes and increase punishment accordingly

Negative #2
V: Justice
Cr: John Locke (the gov't must protect the right of its citizens)

C1: Hate crime enhancements allow government to better protect its citizens
-increases protection for those who most need it (those who are most likely to be targeted because of a characteristic)
-this allows the government to restore a kind of equal playing field among citizens (response to an Affirmative argument about Equality)

C2: Hate crimes are more harmful to rights to than parallel crimes
-increase chances of vengeful violence
-emotional/psychological harm to the community
-->b/c hate crimes are worse, it is only just that the punishment be increased in order to 1) try to prevent them from re-occurring (deterrence), 2) incapacitate the more dangerous offender (due the potential number of victims) for a longer period of time (incapacitation), and 3) hopefully stem any potential vengeful violence from the victimized community

Negative #3
V: Justice
Cr: Just Punishment (under Constitution, or law, or something that includes that the punishment should fit the crime)

C1: Hate crime enhancements are constitutional
-shown in Mitchell v. Wisconsin

C2: Hate crime enhancements allow the punishment to fit the crime
-hate crimes are worse than parallel crimes
-regular laws can't punish sufficiently given this different
---> HCE allow more punishment, making it fit the crime

Jim Anderson said...

okiedebater, I'm moving your comments up to their own posts, since there's much to consider.