[JURIST] Reported hate crimes in the US increased by approximately two percent in 2008, the greatest reported increase since 2001, according to the 2008 Hate Crime Statistics [report; press release] released by the FBI [official website] on Monday. The FBI reported 7,780 single-bias hate crime incidents in 2008, up from the 7,621 reported in 2007 [FBI report; JURIST report]. The FBI noted that the increase does not necessarily reflect an actual rise in incidents, because the number of law agencies participating in the study increased in the last year. Racial discrimination accounted for 51.3 percent of reported hate crimes, a slight increase over the 50.8 percent reported in 2007. Hate crimes motivated by religion also increased slightly while crimes motivated by sexual orientation were reported with approximately the same frequency as in 2007. The only category to show a decrease was in ethnicity- and nationality-based crimes. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) [advocacy website] responded by issuing a statement [press release] calling for "a coordinated campaign to prevent, deter, and respond effectively to criminal violence motivated by bigotry and prejudice."
The report comes one month after President Barack Obama signed [JURIST report] into law a defense appropriations bill containing a measure extending the definition of federal hate crimes to include crimes motivated by gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act [S 909 text], passed the US Senate and House of Representatives [JURIST reports] as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (NDAA) [HR 2647 materials]. Conservative members of Congress in both instances charged that the hate crimes provision was an inappropriate measure to include in a military appropriations bill, while some specifically opposed special protections to victims in those classes.