Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Policy Proposal #5: Hate Crime Register

My policy proposal #5 for the Labour Party 2015 Manifesto - launch a hate crime register

Summary: Recommendation that Labour supports the creation of a Hate Crime Register identifying persons convicted of committing hate crimes

Proposal:  Labour should support the creation of a new Hate Crime Register. Its purpose would be akin to the sex offenders register. The latter provides a list of persons identified as sex offenders where appearing on this register renders them ineligible for certain occupations, such as working with children in schools.

A Hate Crime Register would fulfill a similar aim. It would identify persons convicted of hate crimes with the purpose of rendering them ineligible for similar, if not the same, types of employment and other opportunities.

One aim is to help make communities safer. A further aim is to communicate a stronger deterrent.

See more at YourBritain website.


Matt said...

I'll admit that (without having read the details) I worry quite a bit about this. At least in the US, sex offender registration seems to be almost a complete disaster to me. There is, in fact, not much evidence at all that sex offenders are more likely to re-offend (despite what's often believed), so picking them out for post punishment regulation seems to mostly cater to moral panic. And, it makes their lives vastly more difficult in ways that don't seem at all justified to me. Unless there's very good reason to think something like, "once a hate-crime perpetrator, always a hate-crime perpetrator", a claim I find extremely dubious, this seems likely to be a net negative to me. In fact, I would tend to think that your own theory of "stakeholding", in your _Punishment_ book would tell strongly against this proposal, as there's strong reason to think that those who must register will be seen by others and will see themselves are perpetual outsiders w/o a full stake in society, and that the negative treatment that will inevitably come from registration will make future re-integration of perpetrators much more difficult. So, I see no reason to be enthusiastic about this proposal, and lots of reason to be very wary of it. Of course, I should read the detailed account, but I'd be hugely surprised if it wasn't the wrong way to go.

Thom Brooks said...

Many thanks for this, Matt. You raise several good points as usual. You're right about the lack of evidence for sex offender registers - although this is, in part, a problem concerning the many difficulties of securing convictions for sex crimes in the first place.

But I'd still stick with my proposal:

1. I don't believe persons on the register should always remain for life. This must be subject to appeal and judicial review. My preference would be for only a temporary registration.

2. In England & Wales, persons on the sex offenders register are not permitted to work in certain fields, such as primary school teachers. I'm tempted to argue some temporary restriction for hate crime offenders might be warranted.

3. You are correct about my support for stakeholding in *Punishment*. But I think stakeholding can support this view. This is because hate crimes are a serious form of crime and for which a hate crime register might give 'expression'. I'd be interested to see any comparative studies examining similar experiments elsewhere to see whether (a) they lead to fewer cases of hate crimes, (b) they lead the public to believe hate crimes taken more seriously and so on.

About any measure will promote some barrier to re-integration. The fact of conviction or receipt of a prison sentence can have long lasting consequences. Inclusion on a hate crime register could be especially problematic if that was all there was, but perhaps if it was limited to temporary exclusion from specific types of employment + mandatory attendance at post-release meetings about related issues (again, only a temporary basis) might be one way of flagging issues concerning hate crime while also addressing its roots.