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Hate Crime Legislation in the US

Hate Crime

Hate crimes, is also known as bias-motivated crimes. Hate Crime is a crime, which is typically one that involves violence that is motivated by prejudgment based on race, religion, sexual orientation, and other grounds.  Hate crime is not just any other crime. Hate crimes can’t just be a group of people, but it’s also a person who is part of any specific group that might be a target by another person that hates a specific religion, race or sexual orientation. Many articles argue that hate crimes are just crimes and they don’t benefit anything to society.  Many also mentioned that there is no need to separate crimes from other crimes, because it’s not just promoting any equality to society but questioning if hate crime law is any beneficial to society. Hate crime law has been in society since the Ku Klux Klan who used violence against black people. In which, the first crime law took in place and was made the Civil Rights Act of 1871. Until today, attacking and killing people based on their sexual orientation and religion etc., has lead lawmakers’ goal for 2019 to strengthen state laws against hate crime. The main objective of hate crime legislation is to promote social stability and equality (Alongi, 2016).

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The first Hate crime law that was made was called Civil Rights Act of 1871, in which is a federal act that protected individuals from the Fourteenth Amendment. Voting rights were being violated by private person, even those that started the violence, like for example the Kul Klux Klan.  It also made it illegal to use or close to use force by anyone or threat by force or interfering with anyone for that matter. California was the first to pass hate crime law, but it wasn’t until 1978 when they improved

hate crime based on race, religion, color and for their national origin.  Then states started to make their own law for hate crime, in which they weren’t all the same. There are four states that don’t have hate laws or gender identity. The four states that don’t have hate laws in which are; Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Wyoming.  In 2009, U.S. Congress passed Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expanded the 1969 federal hate crime law to include protections for individuals based on gender, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. The act also provides federal funding to help state and local jurisdictions more effectively prosecute hate crimes (Hwang, 2019). Hate crime laws aren’t just for particular groups but for everyone because we all have a gender, religion and sexual orientation, but many other people have stated otherwise.

Indiana is the one of the five states in the country that doesn’t have any hate crime and wont any time soon. Some believe that they don’t need the law and some say that there is already an Indian code that allows aggravator concept in a bias crime and it’s not needed. People are disappointed for the reason that a lot of hate crimes has occurred and there hasn’t been any justice and many have to do with race. La’Kysha Gardner, moved her family to Fort Wayne from Illinois and her son was being bullied. La’Kysha’s son was attacked and killed because of his race and she was the reason why she was in favor of this bill but was denied. Just because her son was African American and was in the wrong community, there will be no justice in Indiana for any innocent people.

Hate crime laws doesn’t prevent hate crimes against LGBT community. Hate crime legislation has long been contentious in Indiana (Hwang). Many bills have been wished-for but yet it hasn’t been passed. The LGBT protection has been an accomplishment and especially for gender identity. Only 45 states have hate crime laws and only have specific group included, only third of those openly have protection for transgender individuals. Sexual orientation is categorized under gender identity but the LGBT is not the same only because you were born a woman not a man, you made the choice to change your sexuality and yet you weren’t born with. Sexual orientation is a person’s sexual identity in relation to the gender to which they are attracted; the fact of being heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual (Dictionary).  The bill happen to only that state individuals but not a group, in which it makes no sense due the fact a group has individuals and they are all being attacked by being in a group in the LGBT community.

In Salem, Oregon a man was charged with hate crime after assaulting and attacking a Sikh who was working in a convenience store. The 24 year-old, Andrew Ramsey target the victim because of his religion. Sikh men have stubbly hair and wear a turban that covers. The Sikh Coalition, the largest Sikh civil rights organization in America, said it is monitoring this case. Hate crimes increased by 40 percent in Oregon from 2016 to 2017, according to the FBI (Associated press). Hate crime seems to not stop over the years. This story was most recent on January 18, 2019. Andrew Ramsey was charged with intimidation in the second degree and a misdemeanor in hate crime.

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Just today an actor Jussie Smollett was attacked by two men in Chicago. The men shouted racial remarks and homophobic slurs at him as they attacked him they put a rope in over his neck and pour unknown chemical on him. The attackers yelled “MAGA country” while attacking the actor and friend. The Chicago police hasn’t found surveillance or any witness for this crime and it’s still under investigation, this case is treated as a Hate Crime. The actor is in good condition as well as for his friend. The actor plays as a singer and gay in the TV show called Empire. Jussie sexually is gay. FBI data released last year showed a 17 percent increase in hate crimes between 2016 and 2017. Hate crimes based on race, ethnicity or ancestry were the most common, making up about 60 percent of the total. The FBI’s latest report also found 15.8 percent of hate crime offenses in 2017 stemmed from sexual orientation bias. Between 2016 and 2017, hate crimes motivated by racial bias rose about 18 percent and attacks on LGBTQ individuals rose 5 percent, according to the FBI (CBS News).  Hate crime against black people has increased over the three years including racist and homophobic attack.

Many others would question if hate crime is even beneficial to society. The main objective of hate crime legislation is to promote social stability and equality. However, in reality, these laws promote inequality and exacerbate societal divisions and identity politics (Alongi, 2016). Hate crime tends to protect groups from each other by stating that a certain group of individuals deserve more legal protection than others. They had mentioned that hate crimes reverse the discrimination rather than solving they are creating more negative and unnecessary circumstances.  Hate crimes shouldn’t be separated from other crimes because they are already laws the state to protect all people/victims from crimes regardless of the victim’s identity.

Hate crime doesn’t seem to be effective or not necessary, but there should be more research to find out the real reason why people commit hate crimes and be able to prove the evidence. Prosecutors have had trouble on proving hate crime evidence in court. Hate crime is a good thing but seems to not be as effective as it should.


  • Hate Crime Laws. (2018, October 15). Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/crt/hate-crime-laws
  • Hwang, K. (2019, January 11). Here’s how Indiana’s proposed hate crime bills would compare to other states’. Retrieved from https://www.indystar.com/story/news/2019/01/10/how-gender-identity-protection-hate-crime-laws-looks-throughout-u-s/2515931002/
  • Man who attacked Sikh store clerk in Oregon charged with hate crime. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/man-who-attacked-sikh-store-clerk-oregon-charged-hate-crime-n960316
  • McKinney, M. (2018, January 30). No Ind. hate crime law for at least another year. Retrieved from https://www.theindychannel.com/news/politics/indiana-is-one-of-five-states-with-no-hate-crime-law-it-will-stay-that-way
  • Rennison, C. M., & Dodge, M. (2018). Introduction to criminal justice: Systems, diversity, and change. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.


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