Criminal Justice Research Program Receives Nearly $325,000 to Shine Light on Muslim Hate Crimes in Arkansas

Drs. Tusty ten Bensel and Robert Lytle in the School of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock have received $324,987 from the National Science Foundation to fund a three-year program designed to equip students to research Muslim hate crime experiences in Arkansas. The goal of this project is to help criminal justice students gain a deeper understanding of the scope and magnitude of anti-Muslim hate crimes in the state. According to the FBI, Muslims are the second-largest target of hate crimes in the US. 

Dr. Tusty ten Bensel

This program will run for three eight-week summers. In the first year, students will learn how to conduct research and interview 15-30 Muslims in the community on their experiences of hate crimes in Arkansas. Interviewees must be 18 and older and a resident of the state for at least six months. In the second year, students will distribute surveys to a larger Muslim population in the state. In the final year, they will interview policy makers and law enforcement about hate crime legislation. 

Dr. Robert Lytle

This project is unique due to the fact that Arkansas does not anti-hate crime legislation. Currently, hate crimes reported in the state are deferred to federal authorities, but no state-level sanctions are in place for these crimes. Ten Bensel and Lytle hope that this project can help influence stronger hate crime laws in Arkansas. 

“One of the purposes of this study is to provide exposure, like, these types of behaviors that you experience are not acceptable and are not experiences to shrug off,” Ten Bensel said. “So the outcome of this project could have a number of practical and policy implications…”


This project is funded by the National Science Foundation under award number 2050161. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are of those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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