FBI Updates 2020 Hate Crime Statistics After Minor Technical Error

October 26, 2021

By a Biometrica staffer

Due to a small technical issue that omitted part of the data submission from the state of Ohio, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has updated and re-released its statistics on hate crimes and bias-motivated incidents in 2020. The original report was issued a few months ago, in August.

The FBI’s hate crime data is voluntarily submitted by local law enforcement agencies, and covers criminal incidents and offenses motivated by bias against a specific race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, and gender identity. A total of 15,138 agencies sent the FBI statistics in 2020. There are roughly 18,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide, so this represents a participation rate of approximately 84%.

In the original report, the FBI said there were 7,759 hate crime incidents reported in total, representing a 6.1% increase over 2019. It was also the highest number of incidents recorded since 2008, when there were a total of 7,783 incidents reported, and was the second year in a row that record was broken.

The newly released statistics revise that number, with 8,263 criminal incidents being submitted by law enforcement agencies. However, this increase makes 2020 the record-holder for most number of hate crime incidents noted since 2001 and the aftermath of 9/11, when the FBI received 9,730 reports of hate crime incidents.

The total number of hate-related offenses was at 11,129 in 2020, the latest report from the FBI says. Adding in Ohio’s data increased the number of victims to 11,126 from the 10,528 reported in August. 

The biggest change in the offenders’ motivations came in the disability category, but even those were minimal. The updated report says 20% of victims were attacked due to the offender’s sexual orientation bias (compared to the earlier 20.5%), and 1.4% were victimized due to the offender’s disability bias (compared to the previous 1%).

As we wrote in August, the Black and Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities saw the sharpest rise in the number of hate crime incidents targeting them in 2020. In particular and tied to the Covid-19 pandemic, bias-motivated incidents against AAPI people spiked 76% in 2020, compared to 2020. Hate incidents against Black people rose around 40%, but by pure numbers, Black people still are most often the targets of hate crime incidents.

An additional two rapes were reported as hate crimes, the FBI says — 21 in total during 2020, instead of the earlier 19. In what is considered the “victimless crime” category of crimes against society (i.e., engaging in prostitution, drug violations, illegal gambling, etc.), there were actually 232 offenses last year, and not 193, as previously mentioned.

While the number of “known offenders” saw a modest adjustment (6,780 instead of 6,431), the demographics of these perpetrators was largely unchanged. The same is true for the locations where the hate crime incident took place, with most happening at or near a place of residence/home, and around 20% on highways, roads, alleys, streets, or sidewalks. As in the earlier version of the report, just over 3% occurred at places of worship, like churches, synagogues, temples, or mosques.