Thursday, September 12, 2013

Men Are Put in Prison at Much Higher Rates Than Women for Committing the Same Crimes and With the Same Records

A paper released last year by Michigan University Law found that the rate at which men are put in prison for committing the same crimes as women and the length of time they were put in prison for is even more grossly unfair than previously thought:

"After controlling for the arrest offense, criminal history, and other prior characteristics, "men receive 63% longer sentences on average than women do," and "[w]omen are…twice as likely to avoid incarceration if convicted." This gender gap is about six times as large as the racial disparity...

There are other studies that have shown gender disparity in criminal cases, but not as pronounced as Prof. Starr's findings. This is because she is looking at "a larger swath of the criminal justice process" in her analysis, she said...

After estimating the amount of disparity left unexplained by the arrest offense and other control variables, the paper explores "why these gaps exist—and, in particular, whether unobserved differences between men and women might justify them." Prof. Starr explores several potential mitigating factors, such as the "girlfriend theory" (that "[w]omen might be viewed as…mere accessories of their male romantic partners"), the role of women as primary caregivers to their children, and the "theory that female defendants receive leniency because they are more cooperative with the government."

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