AuthorSinnar, Shirin

INTRODUCTION 802 I. NEW CAXLS FOR HATE CRIME PREVENTION 806 A. The Surge in Anti-Asian Violence 806 B. Support for Hate Crime Prevention 809 II. HATE CRIME PREVENTION: THE ACADEMIC SCHOLARSHIP 813 A. Prejudice Reduction 814 1. Tying Hate Crimes to Prejudice Reduction 815 2. Social Psychology of Prejudice Reduction 817 B. Political Reforms and Structural Solutions 821 1. Structural Theories of Hate Violence 822 2. The Effect of Political Speech and Policies 825 C. Socioeconomic Investments in Communities 829 1. Hate Crimes and Economic Deprivation 830 2. Hate Crimes and Mental Illness 831 3. Hate Crimes and Non-Carceral Crime Prevention 834 III. CONUNDRUMS OF HATE CRIME PREVENTION 837 A. Conceptualizing Hate Crimes 837 B. Big Debates over Basic Questions 840 C. The Political Challenges of "Root Cause" Solutions 842 CONCLUSION 845 INTRODUCTION

In 2020, hate crimes surged amid the worst pandemic in a century, racial justice protests following the police killing of George Floyd, and a divisive presidential election marked by the racist rhetoric of President Trump. (1) Over the next two years, everyday acts of racial harassment, unprovoked assaults captured on video, and mass shootings targeting non-white or LGBTQ+ people in Atlanta, Buffalo, and Colorado Springs generated widespread fear in multiple communities. At the same time, the conversation on responding to hate crimes grew more complicated amid calls to defund the police and new attention to systemic racism in the criminal legal system. While some in targeted communities called for more policing and greater enforcement of hate crime laws, others sought alternative solutions that relied less on law enforcement and imprisonment to improve safety. And people on both sides of the debate queried what could be done to prevent hate crimes in the first place, rather than simply hold offenders accountable and help victims heal when such crimes occurred. (2)

This Essay explores the recent surge in anti-Asian hate violence and the policy conversation surrounding it to highlight the new interest in hate crime prevention outside the criminal legal system--and the challenges it presents. Efforts to prevent hate crimes outside law enforcement channels have taken a wide variety of forms, including educational initiatives, community escort programs to protect vulnerable people, conflict resolution efforts, advocacy against hate speech, and more. Such efforts have attracted significant support, especially at the state and local levels. (3) While there is broad support for hate crime prevention, programs and proposals to prevent hate crimes reflect different approaches to the problem that stem, in part, from divergent perspectives on the causes of hate crimes. Hate crime prevention efforts outside the criminal legal system fall into three broad categories: (1) prejudice reduction measures; (2) political and structural reforms; and (3) socioeconomic investments in communities. Prejudice reduction measures, such as educational programs to reduce stereotyping, stem from a view of hate crimes as an extreme manifestation of bias. Advocacy for political and structural reforms corresponds to a conception of hate crimes as the product of intergroup struggles over power and resources, often influenced by the state. Calls for socioeconomic investments link hate crimes to the conditions that produce interpersonal violence more generally, such as economic distress or public health failures.

This Essay explains these three approaches to hate crime prevention and relates them to theoretical perspectives and a sample of empirical evidence from social psychology, sociology, criminology, and other fields in an effort to connect the policy conversation on hate crime prevention to existing academic research. This brief overview of academic research suggests several key challenges for hate crime prevention. First, the differences in underlying conceptions of hate crimes are not just the result of resolvable empirical disagreements about hate crimes, but also the result of deeply held beliefs on such matters as the prevalence of bias and the role of the state in producing or countering it. Second, academic research on hate crimes leaves many basic questions unanswered, such as the relationship between attitudes and behavior in the perpetration of hate crimes. Research also presents normative conundrums, such as the potential tension between hate crime prevention and other socially desirable policy goals. Third, the politics of hate crime policy, like that of crime policy as a whole, make it difficult to sustain public and political support for the "root cause" systemic reforms that might prevent hate crimes in the longer term. Recognizing these conundrums can help scholars, advocates, and policymakers think through the important project of hate crime prevention.

One caveat in discussing preventative approaches to hate crimes is that the idea of "prevention" has sometimes fueled discriminatory and illiberal policies with respect to crime and political violence. For instance, in earlier work, I argued that security agencies' "preventative" approach to terrorism fueled abusive law enforcement measures against Muslim communities based on zero-tolerance, racialized premises and overbroad proxies for suspicion. (4) I cautioned against extending that form of prevention to white supremacist violence, despite the need for proactive measures to confront the challenge. (5) For similar reasons, civil rights and liberties groups have resisted the federal government's "countering violent extremism" programs--even those potentially directed at racially motivated violence--out of concern that they unreliably flag individuals as threats, entrench discrimination, and risk suppressing speech and expression. (6) While prevention efforts can be misguided, theories and forms of prevention are not all identical. Programs that focus on solving social problems rather than identifying and disrupting potentially violent individuals, and that operate outside of law enforcement and security agencies, do not raise the same concerns as the prevention programs scholars and community advocates have criticized. (7) In focusing on hate crime prevention outside the criminal legal system, this Essay addresses reforms with the potential to reduce bias-motivated violence without replicating the flawed preventative responses of law enforcement and security agencies.

This Essay proceeds as follows: Part I describes the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing public and policy conversation around prevention. Part II sets forth the three approaches to prevention and maps them onto academic research in various disciplines. Part III lays out several challenges of non-carceral hate crime prevention.



      By all accounts, hate crimes and harassment targeting Asian Americans have soared during the pandemic. Hate crime statistics are notoriously unreliable, in part because many victims do not report hate crimes to law enforcement. (8) Nonetheless, many sources of data suggest a rise that seems unlikely to result simply from increased attention or reporting. The FBI's national hate crime statistics, generally thought to undercount hate crimes both because they represent only crimes reported to law enforcement agencies and because they are based primarily on voluntary data submissions from a subset of law enforcement agencies, reported 279 anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020, far higher than the totals for each of the preceding five years. (9) Police data from individual cities also show a rise. The Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism (CSHE) at California State University, San Bernardino, reported a 146% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes reported to police in 2020 in 26 of the largest U.S. jurisdictions. (10) The Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission reported the highest number of anti-Asian hate crimes in the county since 2001, the year of the September 11, 2001, attacks. (11)

      Beyond hate crimes tracked by law enforcement, community groups recorded large numbers of incidents of racial harassment that did not necessarily violate criminal laws. From March 2020 through September 2021, Stop AAPI Hate, a new organization set up at the beginning of the pandemic, logged 10,370 self-reported hate incidents, mostly consisting of harassment and shunning but also physical assaults. (12) These included stories of people spat on, punched, pushed, harassed, blamed for the pandemic, and taunted with racial epithets. (13)

      In March 2021, a 22-year-old shot dead eight people, including six Asian women, at a massage parlor and spa in the Atlanta area, a rampage widely attributed to the victims' race, gender, or both. (14) In other cases, viral videos captured unprovoked attacks on elderly victims. Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai immigrant in San Francisco, died after an assault by a 19-year-old who defense lawyers said had suffered a mental health breakdown. (15) Days after that incident, an unhoused man with a history of "significant mental health issues" and addiction shoved a 91 -year-old to the ground in Oakland's Chinatown. (16) Whether or not all these incidents qualified as hate crimes, they radiated fear within Asian American communities already reeling from explicit, widespread racial harassment. In 2021, nearly a third of U.S. Asian adults reported fearing they would be threatened or attacked, and almost half said they had experienced racially offensive incidents since the pandemic began. (17) Asian American communities and others rallied to "stop Asian hate" and demand solutions from all levels of government.


      The surge in anti-Asian violence triggered--or revealed--deep disagreements within Asian American and other communities on the role of hate crime laws and law...

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