Definition and Punishment of Hate Crimes

Professor Valerie Jenness of University of California, Irvine discusses the history and ideologies behind the approaches to the definition and punishment of hate crimes.

The Vera Institute of Justice is a nonprofit that has worked for more than five decades to transform justice systems.

Vera produces ideas, analysis and research that inspire change in the systems people rely upon for safety and justice, and works in close partnership with government and civic leaders to implement it.

Violence motivated by racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny, and homophobia weaves a tragic pattern throughout American history. Fueled by recent high-profile cases, hate crimes have achieved an unprecedented visibility. Only in the past twenty years, however, has this kind of violence—itself as old as humankind—been specifically categorized and labeled as hate crime. Making Hate a Crime is the first book to trace the emergence and development of hate crime as a concept, illustrating how it has become institutionalized as a social fact and analyzing its policy implications.

Making Hate a Crime reveals how our current understanding of hate crime is a mix of political and legal interpretations at work in the American policymaking process. Jenness and Grattet provide an insightful examination of the birth of a new category in criminal justice: hate crime. Their findings have implications for emerging social problems such as school violence, television-induced violence, elder-abuse, as well as older ones like drunk driving, stalking, and sexual harassment. Making Hate a Crime presents a fresh perspective on how social problems and the policies devised in response develop over time.

Valerie Jenness

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