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Exclusive: Offender data for FBI hate crime statistics to be updated for 2013

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Currently, FBI hate crime statistics combine Hispanic and white offenders in one broad category, but Hispanics as an "ethnicity" are tracked as victims, as reported at Gather on Saturday. White people and Arab Americans are also combined as offenders.

As a result, it seems that white people commit more hate crimes than they actually do.

As previously noted,

"This is relevant, because a hate crime report in California for 2012, for example, found that '68% of anti-black crimes were committed by Latinos.' But this information is not captured for the official FBI statistics..."

FBI spokesperson Stephen G. Fischer Jr. told the Examiner that the FBI will be "collecting offender Hispanic information starting 2013."

When asked why the FBI was making the change, Fischer said that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Directive 15 "stipulates the race and ethnicity codes we are supposed to use."

Bizarrely, the OMB, and therefore, the FBI, define a white person as "having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa." This means that if an Arab-American commits a hate crime, he or she would also be counted as a "white person" in the annual report. However, anti-Muslim religious hate crimes are tracked, so Arab-Americans that are Muslim can also be counted as victims.

As reported by the Sikh Coalition earlier this year, the FBI will be adding "hate crime tracking categories for Sikhs, Hindus and Arabs." They will be tracked as victims, but evidently not as offenders.

One of the strangest aspects of the FBI hate crime reporting is that convictions are not needed in order to be counted as a hate crime, as confirmed by the FBI spokesperson. As previously reported, "Anonymous graffiti, for example, carries the same weight as a convicted crime." When asked why convictions were not tracked, Fischer said, "Provision of disposition data by law enforcement agencies to the FBI is done on a voluntary basis," whatever that means.

This seemingly casts aside presumption of innocence, and since over ten percent of offenders are classified as "unknown," wouldn't it be impossible to determine motive or confirm whether the hate crime is a hoax? Fischer said that hate crimes are "determined and reported by law enforcement officers after a formal investigation determines the bias of the offender meets the qualifications for a hate crime," but the statistics reveal that 11.5 percent of the offenders are not known.

Fischer further states that "hoaxes or other considerations would be eliminated through police investigation."

As reported this week by John Hawkins of Town Hall, even a crime such as the famous and tragic case of Matthew Shepherd could turn out to be something other than it seemed. What if a crime that was initially reported as a hate crime was later found not be a hate crime? Would the FBI update their data?

As previously noted, a report from Glenn Smith and Natalie Caula Hauff of the local South Carolina news outlet, the Post and Courier, called to question the validity of the FBI report in their neck of the woods.

They write in part,

"Three agencies — Summerville police, Colleton County Sheriff's Office and Citadel campus police — said they could not find records of any hate crime incidents last year, despite numbers attributed to them in the FBI report. Summerville Police Capt. Jon Rogers, for example, said the report's listing of three race-related hate crimes in his town was incorrect."

When the Examiner requested the data for which the FBI hate crime statistics are based, the FBI spokesperson said that the "information is law enforcement sensitive" and not available "other than for law enforcement purposes."

According to the data for 2012, 54.6 percent of hate crimes were committed by "white" people. It would be interesting to find out what percentage were Hispanic and Arab. But without the source data, that is impossible to determine.

It seems that researchers and others have no choice but to trust the data.

Follow Renee Nal on Twitter @ReneeNal and Facebook.

Check out her news and political commentary on Liberty Unyielding, Gather and Tavern Keepers for news you won't find in the mainstream media. Renee is also a guest blogger for the Shire Blog.

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