Free Minds & Free Markets

Stop Letting People Lie to You About Hate Crime and Human Trafficking Spikes

Government statistics often show more reports of both. That doesn't mean either is on the rise.

Stacey Wescott/TNS/NewscomStacey Wescott/TNS/NewscomPresidential candidates, TV pundits, and others keep trying to contextualize actor Jessie Smollett's false assault report by saying that even if this one wasn't true, hate crimes are on the rise in America. Just look at the most recent FBI statistics, they say. Similarly, human-trafficking tall tales—like this week's Uber sex trafficker that wasn't—tend to provoke comments about how even if this particular case isn't true, such crimes are a growing problem: Why, just look at the data!

The problem with both of these claims is simple: Our data sets keep expanding. We have higher numbers of incidents, but we also have more and more police agencies participating in the voluntary reporting system.

In 2017, there were around 1,050 more bias-based incident reports than the previous year—a 17 percent rise. There were also around 1,000 additional agencies reporting. As Robby Soave wrote last fall, "this means it's not obviously the case that hate crimes are more prevalent in 2017. Maybe the government just did a better job of counting them."

In 2016, there were 271 more incidents deemed hate crimes than in 2015, with 257 more law enforcement agencies reporting. As I pointed out when those data came out, "the number of hate crime classifications was higher in 2016 than in any of the four preceding years" but "lower than in 2011 and significantly down from 2006-08." There were also fewer victims in 2016: 7,615, down from 9,652 in 2006.

We saw no significant rise in hate crimes from 2004 and 2015, either. A Bureau of Justice Statistics study found that "the rate of violent hate crime victimization" in 2015 "was not significantly different from the rate in 2004" and that this "held true for violent hate crimes both reported and unreported to police."

Even these numbers are somewhat ambiguous. They represent police investigations opened, not necessarily incidents where a suspect was ever confirmed. So we could be dealing with false positives.

The FBI has been collecting human trafficking data since just 2013. For a few years, these numbers, too, kept increasing as a growing number of agencies submitted the voluntary trafficking data to the feds. Last year, however, the numbers were actually down, despite another increase in the number of jurisdictions submitting data.

In 2016, 56 juveniles and 916 adults were arrested on labor or sex trafficking charges, according to FBI-gathered data from state and local police agencies. In 2017, 49 juveniles arrested were arrested and 643 adults were arrested. There were a total of 1,196 suspected offenses reported in 2016 and just 1,220 in 2017.

Another measure people often reference is the number of "cases" referred to the government-funded national human trafficking hotline, run by the Polaris Project. This is an exceedly poor measurement to begin with, since a case just means any call, email, or message to the hotline about a potential incident. But beyond that, the hotline has been posted in an ever-increasing number of places since its inception. Successive states have passed laws requiring that it be posted in various public places and private businesses, and the federal government has promoted it in an increasing number of awareness materials. Having gone from a relatively obscure number to something legally required to be posted all over the place, it got more calls. Like the hate crime "spike," this tells us nothing about the reality or prevalence of human trafficking.

Photo Credit: Stacey Wescott/TNS/Newscom

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  • Longtobefree||

    Government statistics are not a reliable source of data for policy determination.

  • Cthulunotmyfriend||

    Not true, the CIA Facebook and other sources can be great. The collection and dissemination of statistical data is a useful and fairly cheap function of government. USHS and NOAH data is great. Economic indicators and other Sadat's drives the stock market and business decisions. It's just that this hate crime stats may not be the best set of data. And I know the various government agencies pad and manipulate studies sometimes to support their own agendas. But that just means that we need to use our 1st ammendment rights to speak up if we see crap stats. And this article did just that.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Human and sex trafficking are going to be big topics for the next day or two because of Bob Kraft.

  • Just Say'n||

    Can you support legalized sex work and be happy that Bob Kraft was taken down a peg?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    No, because Kraft helped get Meek Mill out of prison. I hope this experience further emboldens Kraft to get involved in criminal justice reform.

  • Tu­lpa||

    Let's speculate on who the "big name" who got stung but that hasn't been reported yet is.

  • Tu­lpa||

    Trump Jr.

  • Rich||

    Stephanopoulos? Or bigger still?

  • Crusty Juggler||


  • Trollificus||

    It's Hitler, amirite??

    Dammit, I NEVER get these "You know who else got busted soliciting for sex services?" things right.

  • Rich||

    There's no word on who the biggest name is, and it's unclear why the authorities in Florida would name Kraft publicly but not name this bigger name.

    Not "Little Marco"?!

  • SIV||

    Not a chance. The Asian spas only employ women.

  • Just Say'n||

    Fist of Etiquette?

  • Crusty Juggler||


  • Deconstructed Potato||

    Tom Brady

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    Yes absolutely; its the American way.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    I agree ENB - no pretty, white Canadian ladies should let some uppity Negro is dispute her knowledge about hate crime statistics.

  • Tu­lpa||

    Montreal has so much talent...

  • Rich||

    a case just means any call, email, or message to the hotline about a potential incident.

    "Do you have Prince Albert in a pouch?"

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Aw, is ENB petsitting one of Robbie's Yorkies?

  • Don't look at me!||

    It's Prince Albert in a can!

  • Rich||

    In 2017, there were ... around 1,000 additional [since 2016] agencies reporting.

    WTF? How many "agencies" are there?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Haven't you been reading the news, Rich? There aren't enough agencies! WE'RE ALL DOOMED!

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Isn't that the whole problem? Lack of a female agency?

  • Toranth||

    There are 18,000 police departments in the US.

  • Zeb||

    Then there are sheriffs departments, state police, state highway patrol, state departments of corrections, and every other government agency that inexplicably has a law enforcement agency attached to it.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Which isn't enough.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Crusty, time to deputize all your sperm.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    "Presidential candidates, TV pundits, and others" do nothing but lie. It's what they do.

  • Ray McKigney||

    That would make a good GEICO commercial.

    "Politicians lie. It's what they do."

  • Jake W||

    You know who else does nothing but lie?

  • Trollificus||

    *sigh* Hitler?

  • SIV||

    Hey Liz ! Are we gonna get a post on that vast Florida-New York-Cathay network bust of Chinee slave-hooers ?

  • Red Tony||

    None of them were chickens, SIV. Trust me on this.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    He made his bed (of straw), now let him lay in it.

  • Truthteller1||

    But, but the media...

  • Zeb||

    I find the "human trafficking" stuff to be the most directly dishonest. A real Baptists and Bootleggers thing. The way it's presented makes it sound like every case of "human trafficking" is something to do with forced prostitution or slave labor. But there are a lot of people in the world willing to pay good money to be trafficked into other countries. Which you might not want for other reasons. But the people being trafficked aren't exactly victims in many cases.

  • Jake W||

    It's like statistics in the war on drugs...

    Customer, victim; what's the difference?


  • patskelley||

    HA! Reminds me of an analysis class I took way back when. One classmate did a talk complete with carts and graphs to show which city/county a forest fire abatement agency was established in the state. The statistics showed all recorded incidences of forest fire across the entire the state. The graph, however displayed an immense increase in forest fire incidences concentrated around each fire abatement agency. Conclusion: Forest fire abatement centers cause forest fires. It's the little things you miss. :-)

  • Rich||

  • Jake W||

    I find this defense problematic. It perpetuates the stereotype that black people are drug users.

  • JesseAz||

    Just the gay ones.

  • markm23||

    Therefore, it's a hate crime.

  • LLizard||

    It sounds plausible. It's commonly understood that using ecstasy induces hostility and hatred toward others, and can trigger an elaborate paranoid fantasy of incoming violence and prejudice, that needs a little 'street theater' to validate 'his truth'. Or, maybe that's steroids.

  • Don't look at me!||

    Or maybe he's just stupid.

  • Kevin Smith||

    No, its definitely ectasy. Name one rave that hasn't dec\descended into a bloody battle royale

  • Trollificus||

    "Battles Royale" where the only weapons allowed are smiles, massages and spastic dancing. Brutal indeed...

  • gdanning||

    This is all true, but also pretty lazy reporting. The number of agencies is less relevant to the population covered by those agencies, and that information is readily available. In 2017, the covered population was 306,435,676. In 2016, it was 289,814,003. (sorry, site won't let me post the url)

    So, the number of hate crimes reported per covered person rose about 10 percent (from 6,121 incidents / 289,814, 003 [i.e, 21.1 per 100K] to 7,175/306,435,676 [23.4 per 100k])

    Hence, it appears that reports did rise (though not by the commonly reported 17 pct)

    PS: The population numbers do not always go up each year; in 2013 it was over 295K, and in 2014 it was just shy of 298K

  • soldiermedic76||

    Your assessment is still meaningless. The fact that 1000 new agencies reported, means we can make no assessment as to if the increase per 100,000 is a true increase or if it is simply a function of new reporting. It is possible that these new agencies are in areas that have a greater than average number of "hate crimes", but that they didn't see an increase but that this greater number influenced the overall data.

  • soldiermedic76||

    For any true assessmenent we must be able to have continuous data from similar sources, i.e. we must make sure that there is no unknown variable. In this case the new reporting agencies previous level of hate crimes, and how it influences this year's data is two unknowns. Therefore, we cannot draw any conclusions from the data. Anyone who says differently is not taking a scientific approach to it. You can attempt to normalize it by using incidents per 100,000, but that still doesn't eliminate the unknown variables.

  • TDHawkes||

    You realize stats don't follow a straight line up or down, they vary by year for many complex reasons, including variable means to report crimes and variable methods used to track crimes. Which makes me wonder why you are minimizing hate and trafficking based on stats-spin.

  • Dizzle||

    All this really tells us is something we already knew...

    Everything was worse under Obama.

  • JoeB||

    This is a headline with one goal: Equate fake hate crimes with reports of human trafficking. Why? To disparage one of Trump's rationales for wall-building. Just more Reason TDS on display.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    It's ENB so sex things. It could work for lot of things.

    Stop Letting People Lie to You About [Mass Shootings] and Human Trafficking Spikes

    Government statistics often show more reports of both. That doesn't mean either is on the rise.
    Stop Letting People Lie to You About [Boofing] and Human Trafficking Spikes

    Government statistics often show more reports of both. That doesn't mean either is on the rise.
    Stop Letting People Lie to You About [Vaping Deaths] and Human Trafficking Spikes

    Government statistics often show more reports of both. That doesn't mean either is on the rise.
  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    It is always possible to generate statistics 'showing' that 'Hate Crimes' and 'Human Trafficking' are on the rise. Both categories are so loosely defined (not to say fraudulent) that one can generally generate a 'rise' simply by shifting the definition. Like so many labels beloved of the Progressive Left (Racist and Assault Weapon spring to mind) these two don't actually MEAN anything.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    Well put.

  • Trollificus||

    Well, there's ONE product of "statistics showing an increase in Hate Crimes and Human Trafficking" we shouldn't overlook, and that's increased budgets for police departments, intelligence agencies, and training sessions held in nice resorts.

    That's really the only sure thing to come of any moral panic.

  • DatCrazyMongoose||

    Follow the money....

  • Curly4||

    There is probably no way to determine if any of those "hate" crimes that were reported in earlier years were fake but if they were it would interesting to know. I remember a what was later called a "hate crime" happened in Louisiana, I think, sometime before 2005 where some racial graffiti and an noose appeared on the side of a building that black people lived in. The incident hit the news immediately and stayed in the news for several days. It stayed in the news until the investigation determined that it was not done by a white person but one of the residents of the building which were all African-american. Unlike the Somllett case when it was found it was committed by a black person it was dropped form the news cycle.
    When a person fakes a report of a hate crime that person who faked the crime should be charged just as if he had committed the real crime because the fake detracts form the real crimes and hurts all. The way to prevent fake crimes is to prosecute those who commit fake crimes.

  • Colossal Douchebag||

    1. I never started.

    2. George Carlin's first rule.

  • ||

    Hate is an emotion, not a crime. Criminalization of subjective feelings is characteristic of tyranny.

  • Dizzle||

    Let's not forget the study from one of those national Jewish centers that came out after the synogaug shooting that said hate crimes against news were on the rise...

    Reported that violent crimes were actually down under trump. But what was WAY up was "harassment crimes". And where were these anti Semitic harassment crime mostly happening?! On the campuses of liberal arts colleges!

    So liberals are using statistics of their liberal children harassing jews on liberal campuses to try and point a finger at hate crimes rising under trump...

  • Ciril Ungoth||

    How many hate crimes are acceptable? How many is too many? Hate crime reporting is usually at the discretion of the law enforcement in question. Many states for philosophical and cultural reasons under-report or are more reluctant to call an assault or other crime a hate crime. Like Utah for example. On a deeper level, many states have a history of not reporting the assaults on certain demographics at all, or even protecting the perpetrator of a bigotry-motivated assault. What is the author arguing for here? More accurate and comprehensive reporting of crime statistics nationwide? That would be great but the author is splitting hairs over whether there is a 17% increase in hate crimes, while acknowledging that there are thousands and thousands of these incidents which are categorically meant to intimidate and terrorize a whole group of people, not just the attacked person. Therefore the author's headline could just as well read: "Despite Smollet Hoax, Hate Crime Remains Prevalent in the US," based solely on the statistics they have repeated/reported here. The author seems to smugly smirk that hate crime statistics might even be dropping, as if this is really sticking it to those dasterdly librals. But shouldn't we be celebrating/rejoicing if this is the case? That would be really, truly fantastic! Thanks for recycling more confusion and misinformation. You truly serve a valuable role in America.

  • Email Help Desk||

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