The term hate crime was not used until recently, but one can think back to the time of slavery and see that hate crimes have been around for a longtime. In the past hate crimes mostly dealt with race, but in the past several decades hate crimes are rising in the area of sexual orientation. The best way to deal with hate crimes is to educate people on what a hate crime is and to help society build tolerance and gain acceptance for everyone on planet earth.
The first thing that one needs to do when dealing with hate crimes is to understand what a hate crime is and why it is so dangerous. The term hate crime was first used by journalists and policy advocates in the 1980s as they attempted to describe a series of attacks on Asians, African American, and Jews. A hate crime (bias crime) is committed against a person, property, or society motivated by the offender’s bias against race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin (FBI). The 1980s played a big role in hate crimes dealing with sexual orientation mostly because of the arrival of AIDS in the United States.
Sexual orientation is defined as an enduring pattern of attraction be it emotional, romantic, sexual, or some combination to the opposite sex ( ), the same sex ( ), both (bisexuality), or neither ( ), and the that accompany them ( ). In the last three decades the acceptance or openness of homosexuality by society has caused an increase in hate crimes based on sexual orientation mostly dealing with homosexuality. The City of El Paso, Texas, in 2011 had a hate crime directed at a gay man which resulted in his death. In 2012 the city has already seen two hate crimes related to sexual orientation of two homosexual men.
In October 1998 a young man named Matthew Wayne Shepard met two young men who agreed to give him a ride home from the Fireside Lounge located in Laramie, Wyoming. The two young men instead drove Shepared to an isolated rural road where they robbed, tortured, tied him to a fence, and left him to die. Shepared was discovered 18 hours later by a cyclist and died six days later in the hospital. At Shepard’s funeral Pastor Fred Phelps head of the Westboro Baptist Church took his congregation to Shepards funeral who held up signs that read: “No Tears for Queers” and “fag Matt to hell.”
President Obama signed into law on October 28, 2009 an act know as the Matthew Sheppered Act. This act in response to the murders of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. (race murder) expanded the hate crime law of 1969, which would include crimes driven by a victim’s or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender, identity, or disability. In 2009 and in 2012 in the city of El Paso, Texas, a town known as the drug corridor of the world is beginning to see the emergence of hate crimes related to sexual orientation. In 2009 Lionel Martinez 23 was brutally beating by six individuals who used baseball bats to assault him as he left the Old Plantation a popular gay club in downtown El Paso. On January 7, 2012 two men beat 23-year-old Emillio Moreno as he left another popular gay nightclub Rumors in Northeast El Paso. They kicked and punched him in the face and left him on the street with a broken jaw, broken nose, ribs, a collapsed lung, and plenty of bruises. The two men did this as they shouted out homosexual slurs and stole his wallet with on $6 dollars in it. Fernando Martinez was arrest in connection to the beaten and was charged with robbery and bail was set at $75,000. In both these case the FBI has been brought into investigate the hate crime and civil rights violations.
Restorative justice is a fairly new approach that focuses on the needs of the victims, offenders as well as the involved community, rather than satisfying abstract legal principles or punishing the offender. In restorative justice victims are to take an active role in the process, whereas offenders are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions by taking responsibility for their actions. Offenders are encouraged to repair the harm that they have done by different ways of restitution be it by apologizing, restoring financial loss, or by providing community service to those affected. Restorative justice is based on the concept that considers crime to be an offense against a person or a community, rather than the state. The restorative justice models are victim-offender mediation, community reparative boards, family group conferencing, and circle conferencing. In order for any of these to work one must embody new values that reflect the needs of everyone involved.
When dealing with hate crimes of sexual orientation the two best models of restorative justice that would work here would be the victim–offender mediation. This would be the best way to get closure for the victim and even from the offender. The main thing is that it would have to be in a safe, very structured setting, and engaged in a mediated discussion of the crime that might open the mind of the offender.
Benefits and Challenges of restorative justice
There are many benefits and challenges that come with restorative justice, but the question at hand is do the challenges of it out weight the benefits or vice versa? After conducting research it has been determined that the benefits out weight the challenges of this form of justice. Several precautions have to be put in place to ensure the safety of not only the victim, but also that of the offender is a vital key element to the success of this approach. The major benefit that can be obtained is that during this event an offender might change his point of view and understand that what he did was not just wrong, but that he himself was also wrong. One of the challenges and things that one should really be worried about when caring out victim-offender mediation is that hate is a very strong word, and that hatred for a certain sexual orientation might have deeper roots in the soul of the offender. This might reveal some hurtful memories for the offender as well. This is why proper preparation and acquiring the properly trained staff to deal with every possible avenue is the key to the success.
How to measure victimization
The best contemporary research instrument to use to measure victimization should be the use of the survey. Surveys are discrete and allow for multiple answers along with detailed answers. Surveys can be as long or as short as they need to be. They can be mailed, scanned, e-mailed, or taken in an office. They allow for privacy and have a much lesser range for error. Surveys are not new tools and have been around for many years, so the majority of the community is familiar with the format.
There are several criminological theories that can be used to identify the victimization of a victim of violence in relation to sexual orientation. Those that fit are routine activities theory (Cohen, Felson) where a person’s routine changes and opens them up to becoming victims. Feminism (Adler, Daly, Messerschmidt), which is a causation of crime related to power mostly identified by men vs. women or women vs. mend. In today’s world it can be looked at as heterosexuals vs. homosexuals. The best fitting criminological theory would be that of social control theory (Hirshi) where certain normative system of rules on how people should and should not behave. Here we will find a formal and informal social control theories, both of which discourage and punish for deviant behavior. The formal form of social control is done by the police and the courts, while the informal social control is exhibited by the family, church, and schools.
Victimization can come in the form of race, religion, or from a person’s sexual orientation. Historically hate crimes were highly linked to race, but in the past three decades the tide has turned to having more hate crimes in relation to sexual orientation. The openness and social acceptance of homosexuality has led to more hate crimes on homosexuals based on it been seen as something not social acceptable by the majority of society. In 2009 the Shepared Act was signed into law by the president, more bullying issues are being addressed in schools due to this as well. The trend has turned form hate crimes related to race, to crimes that society views as sexual deviance. The platform is set where the victims, offenders, and the community can begin using restorative justice models such as victim–offender mediation. This can work as long as all three involved can keep an open mind and think about the events that led to the causation of the crime and how to repair it.
Braithwaite, J. Restorative Justice and Responsive Regulation; (2002), extracted January 11, 2012
Cullen & Agnew, Criminological theory: Past and Present; Feminism, Routine activities, (2002), extracted January 11, 2012
OJJDP; U.S. Department of Justice; A comparison of four restorative conferencing models; February 2001; extracted January 12, 2012
U.S Department of Justice; Hate Crimes: Defining the problem; modified Dec. 22, 2010;, extracted January 12, 2012
Matthew Shepard Foundation; embracing diversity; Matthew Shepared Act -2009;; extracted January 12, 2012
Borunda, Daniel; El Paso Times; FBI probes civil-rights violations in beating outside gay nightclub; May 15, 2011;; extracted January 13, 2012
Chavez, M. A; El Paso Times; Teen convicted of beating outside Downtown El Paso gay nightclub could get jail; Jan. 06, 2012;...; extracted January 13,2012