Report: Hate crimes decline in Mississippi - - Jackson, MS

Report: Hate crimes decline in Mississippi

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By Ashley Conroy - email

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Federal Bureau of Investigations reported in 2009, the incidences of Hate Crimes in Mississippi were the lowest in the nation with just two.

The state had the lowest rate in the nation, but the American Civil Liberties Union says they receive calls at least once a week with people reporting hate crimes.

"Only two are shown in this report, it doesn't actually reflect the number of hate crimes," Brent Cox from the ACLU said. "Rather the number that are reported by Mississippi law enforcement."

Mississippi College School of Law Professor Matthew Steffey says often these formal statistics misrepresent what is actually true.

"This is a difficult thing to get an exact number on," Steffey said. "Many crimes may be disposed of as assault of crimes or other kind of property crimes that are formally disposed of as hate crimes."

Steffey says often hate crimes are violent of nature and can range from bias towards someone's race, sexual orientation preference, religious background, or their national origin.

"These are statistics compiled by the FBI largely as a result of voluntary statistics by local law enforcement."

Nationwide the FBI reported more than 6,500 cases total.

Almost 50 percent of those were motivated by race, whereas 19 percent was against a persons religion, and 18 percent was against someone's sexual orientation preference.     

The ACLU says only way to get the most accurate reading in Mississippi is for the State Legislature to pass a law requiring all law enforcement to be trained to detect when hate crime occurs.

"We need State Legislation requiring officers to report and collect that data, Cox said. "Otherwise we're going to come out with misrepresented reports like this year after year."

In 2008, the FBI listed four formal reports on hate crime in Mississippi.

The ACLU says often people don't report these crimes for fear of being revictimized.

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