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Flawed data skew hate-crime study

December 18, 2006

Re "Hate crimes up, study says," Dec. 15

The statistics The Times relies on are from reported incidents, not necessarily arrests or convictions. Many of the officers gathering this "data" are young recruits with no training in the social sciences. All it takes for an arrest to be categorized as a hate crime is the unproven belief of the accuser or one racial epithet to be uttered. Prosecutors pick up on this and tack on a hate-crime charge, which prejudices juries unfairly against the accused.

In coming years, hate laws may be responsible for a number of wrongful convictions. They require deciding what is in the mind of the accused. Accusations are easily made and difficult to disprove. By furthering these accusations and spreading fear, The Times becomes part of the problem.

DAN FACTOR

Venice

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