Ryken Grattet has a new article in the September 2008 issue of Social Forces entitled "Transforming Symbolic Law into Organizational Action: Hate Crime Policy and Law Enforcement Practice."
Using data on California police and sheriff’s agencies we estimate hierarchical Poisson models to determine how agency-level enforcement efforts, chiefly the creation of a formal policy on hate crime, affect official hate crime reporting. We also examine how community and agency attributes influence the effects of policy on the reporting of hate crime. We find that agency characteristics, in this case measures of the integration of the local agency within the community, shape the degree to which agency policies affect the official reporting of hate crime. Our findings reveal that while symbolic law is not intrinsically incapable of producing changes in enforcement patterns such effects are contingent upon agency and community processes. Thus, we conclude by conceptualizing the varied enforcement contexts within which a body of symbolic law is rendered instrumental.