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1996 Hate Crimes Report

The report is available for downloading in Adobe Acrobat format.

Executive Summary

This 1996 Hate Crimes in Florida Report, submitted in accordance with the 1989 Hate Crimes Reporting Act, contains data reported by individual county and local law enforcement agencies throughout Florida. These agencies reported the occurrence of hate crime incidents in 1996 under the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) information system.

The total number of hate crimes reported by these 51 agencies - which represent fewer than one-fifth of the agencies that participate in FDLE’s UCR program - reflects a significant increase from the previous year. This increase suggests that caution should be applied in developing any conclusions from these numbers. The incidence of reported hate crimes in Florida had remained generally level since reporting began in 1990, marking a small but steady decline in the number of incidents over the period. In 1996, however, the number of reported hate crime incidents increased by 15.8 percent, from 183 in 1995 to 212 in 1996. Until 1996, the average annual number of reported hate crime offenses had fallen 40.2 percent since reporting began seven years ago.

This report is based solely on information provided to FDLE by the reporting agencies. Although several factors, including variations in reporting methods, may have contributed to the increase in the reported number of hate crime incidents, no single factor stands out to explain the increase. The 1996 report includes data from fewer law enforcement agencies than the year before. It is possible that the high-profile increase in arsons against religious institutions prompted more thorough reporting of hate-motivated crimes, but at this time there is no data to pinpoint a specific cause for the increase.

The 212 reported hate crime offenses represent criminal behavior that has been defined, categorized, and codified in Florida Statutes. Even though the number of hate crimes reported is higher for 1996, the motivation pattern behind the incidents, with the exception of arson, remained consistent with previous years. For example, race remains the most common motivation for hate crime, accounting for 74 percent of the 1996 incidents, compared to 70 percent in 1995 and 70 percent in 1994. The other motivation types included in the report (religion, ethnicity, and sexual orientation) were also consistent with previous reports.

Hate crimes are classified by two types of offenses - crimes against persons and crimes against property. Crimes against persons accounted for 70 percent of all hate-related crimes committed during this reporting period which is a proportionate increase of five percent compared to last year.

Again, caution should be applied in interpreting this data and in drawing conclusions solely from information contained in this report. It is important to note that this report does not include un reported crimes, or crimes that may be hate related but are not classified as such by the local law enforcement agency.