U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library


NCJ Number
J Garafolo; S E Martin
Date Published
62 pages
This report presents the results of a study of the characteristics of bias-motivated crime and the law enforcement response to it in New York City and Baltimore County, Md.
The study defined bias-motivated crime as "a crime in which the offender is apparently motivated by a characteristic of the victim that identifies the victim as a member of some group toward which the offender feels animosity." The research focused on the nature of bias- motivated crimes (event characteristics, victims, offenders) in comparison with samples of similar nonbias crimes, as well as the law enforcement response to bias-motivated crimes. Other issues that received attention in the research were the responses of victims to bias-motivated crimes and the definitional problems associated with the concept of bias-motivated crimes. The primary data sets in the study consisted of matched samples of bias and nonbias crimes selected from the records of the New York City Police Department and the Baltimore County Police Department. Other data were collected through small surveys of victims and interviews with police and representatives of other relevant organizations. The study found clear differences between bias crimes and matched samples of nonbias crimes. Generally, the bias crimes were more likely to occur in public places; be less serious in terms of weapon use and injury; involve younger, multiple victims; involve offenders who were strangers to the victims; and elicit stronger, more emotional, longer-lasting reactions from victims. The study also found that special police response to bias crimes that emphasizes investigation and arrest produced higher clearances for such crimes. The report recommends that police departments which institute special responses to bias crimes give attention to inducing officers on the street to recognize and report bias motivation when they encounter it. Procedures should be devised to screen such reports to ensure the accurate targeting of bias-motivated offenses. 18 tables and 30 references