The enactment of state-level hate crime law in the United States: Intrastate and interstate factors

Sarah A. Soule, Jennifer Earl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

68 Scopus citations

Abstract

We examine the processes by which states pass hate crime laws. We argue that states' decisions to enact such legislation are influenced by both state characteristics and the monitoring of the actions of other states. We find that the repeal of a sodomy law in a state does not increase its rate of enactment, but as more and more states enact hate crime laws, those that have repealed their sodomy laws are more likely to follow suit. We also find that states in which the political party of the governor differs from that of the majority of legislators are more likely to become referents to this process, so that once they have enacted a hate crime law, others quickly follow suit. We find no support for the claim that hate crime laws diffused within regions. Finally, with regard to state-level characteristics, we find that wealthier states with Democrat-dominated legislatures that have been policy innovators in the past have higher rates of enactment. Those states that have passed an earlier, less controversial hate crime law have lower rates of enactment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-305
Number of pages25
JournalSociological Perspectives
Volume44
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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