Hate crimes, sometimes referred to as bias crimes, are criminal acts committed against a person or group because of the victims' race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or other group affiliation. The first laws against hate crimes were enacted in the 1980s; most of these laws permit harsher sentences when a crime is found to be a hate crime. One of the primary arguments in favor of these laws has been that hate crimes are more traumatic for victims and communities than ordinary crimes are. This entry discusses the hate crimes laws themselves, as well as the effects of hate crimes on individuals and groups. The entry will also describe research on hate crime offenders and introduce some of the issues related to hate crimes across ...

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