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Prosecuting hate crimes: how to overcome the legal challenges

Protesters denounce hate speech and hate crimes against Muslims at a rally on Sept. 17, 2016, in East Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Fibonacci Blue/Creative Commons)

Jury selection began yesterday in the trial of three White men accused of chasing and killing Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man from Brunswick, Georgia. Video from the incident in February of last year shows two of the men confronting and shooting Mr. Arbery as he was jogging. The men are charged by Georgia authorities with malice and felony murder. They have also been indicted with federal hate crime and attempted kidnapping charges.

For years, the number of hate crimes in the US has steadily increased. Now, we’ll explore what effect the addition of hate crime charges to other charges has in legal proceedings.

If one is convicted of a violent crime like murder, what is gained by an additional conviction that is premised in that killer’s frame of mind and prejudice?

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Dr. Frank Pezzella is an associate professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where he studies the complexities of hate crime prosecution. (CUNY)

Joining Tom now is Dr. Frank Pezzella, an associate professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, part of the City University of New York. He studies hate crimes, and he’s written two monographs on the subject, including one called Hate Crime Statutes: A Public Policy and Law Enforcement Dilemma.  His latest book is called The Measurement of Hate Crimes in America. 

Dr. Frank Pezzella joins us on on our digital line from White Plains, New York.

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