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Questioning Bias: Validating A Bias Crime Victim Assessment Tool In California And New Jersey, Summary Overview

NCJ Number
Laura Simich; Jacob Kang-Brown
Date Published
July 2018
29 pages

Focusing on New Jersey and California, this study investigated the experiences of bias crime and reasons for under-reporting, developed a bias-crime victimization assessment tool from this evidence, and validated the assessment tool.


The two-year study (2016-2017) focused on hate incidents, crimes, and factors that influenced under-reporting of bias crimes against youth and adults in LGBT, Hispanic, Black, and Muslim communities. The study examined correlates of hate crime against these sub-groups, identifying reasons for under-reporting these crimes to police, reviewing existing tools, historical records and incident reports, as well as conducting statistical analysis of just over a decade of hate-crime data from the National Crime Victims Survey (NCVS). In interviews and focus groups, participants described specific hate incidents and crimes they had personally experienced, witnessed, or about which they were directly informed. Victims and law enforcement personnel emphasized the need to improve police-community relations in creating a climate that would improve reporting of hate crimes. Almost all key informants highlighted the need for training to improve knowledge of bias-crime law and practice. The Bias Crime Assessment Tool (BCAT) developed incorporates questions about hate crimes used in recent research and law enforcement efforts; however, its scope is more expansive, because it is also based on information collected as part of the current study, with attention to descriptions of barriers to reporting hate crimes and recommendations for improving the reporting process. Overall, expert reviewers' opinions of the BCAT were positive, with suggestions offered to improve wording. This study identifies what is being missed when the reporting process breaks down, and it identifies remedies, which include implementing the BCAT and Guidelines in law enforcement training and practice. 31 references