Bias crime statistics legislation does not require law enforcement agencies to collect data on the ages of bias crime perpetrators, and bias crime penalty enhancements do not distinguish between youth and adult offenders. As a result, little data exists on youth bias crime, and the consequences of applying bias crime penalty enhancements to adult and youth offenders are generally the same: increased incarceration or additional fines. This Comment unveils the troublesome frequency of youth bias crimes and illustrates that the justifications underlying the application of bias crime penalty enhancements to adult offenders do not apply similarly to youth bias crime offenders. A synthesis of the limited existing data on youth bias crime reveals that, on average, one in every four bias crimes involve at least one youth offender and approximately three in every five bias crimes committed against youth victims are perpetrated by youth offenders. Rather than increase incarceration sentences or impose additional fines, I propose that bias crime penalty enhancements, as applied to youth bias crime offenders, should mandate rehabilitation programs to force youth offenders to confront the biases that motivate their crimes. I contend that requiring youth bias crime offenders to complete these programs is more consistent with the goals of juvenile justice than more punitive penalty-enhancement alternatives.
University of Cambridge
Social Science Research Network (SSRN)