Only 15% of Perpetrators of Hate Crimes in NYC Face Hate Crime Convictions
By Yehudit Garmaise
“Hate has no place in New York City,” politicians often say, however, of the 569 perpetrators of hate crimes who were arrested in New York City between 2015 and 2020, only 65% faced convinctions, and of those convicted, only 15% were convicted on hate crimes charges, The City reported, using data from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services.
Even when prosecutors secure indictments that include hate crime charges, defendants often end up plea-bargaining or pleading guilty to lesser charges in exchange for more lenient punishments.
As a result, the hate crime component of charges often gets dropped.
In Brooklyn, only 30 out of 173 hate crime arrests led to hate crime convictions in that five-year period, according to the state data.
Hate crime experts and prosecutors say the gap between hate crime charges and convictions points to the difficulty in proving perpetrators’ motivations behind their violent actions.
The problem of establishing motivations for hate crimes is that despite targeting people who obviously represent different minority groups, perpetrators of hate crimes rarely overtly express their biases against victims during attacks, or even post hostile, discriminatory language online, according to prosecutors.
“It’s easy to say we’re going hard against hate crime in our city,” said Joan Illuzzi, a former senior trial counsel in the Manhattan DA’s office. “But you have to prove that there’s some targeting based on ethnicity or religion or some other protected class.
“That is more difficult than anyone thinks it is.”
Mayor Eric Adams, however, has said not identifying hate crimes as such is “troubling.”
“I believe throughout the years we have been extremely reluctant in identifying hate crimes,” Adams said. “You fix a problem by identifying a problem.”