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NCJ Number: 219915 Find in a Library
Title: Does the Criminal Justice System Treat Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Offenders Leniently?
Journal: Justice Quarterly  Volume:24  Issue:3  Dated:September 2007  Pages:435-459
Author(s): Richard B. Felson; Paul-Philippe Pare
Date Published: September 2007
Page Count: 15
Type: Research (Applied/Empirical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examined whether men who physically assaulted their female partners or who committed sexual assault received more lenient treatment than offenders who committed other types of assaults.
Abstract: Results of the study suggest that the criminal justice system is not particularly lenient toward men who assault their intimate partners or who sexually assault people they know. However, evidence suggests that the police show leniency toward offenders who assault their partners under two conditions. First, the police are particularly unlikely to arrest women who assault their male partners. Second, the police are less likely to arrest offenders who engage in minor assault against their partner or other people they know (versus strangers). Offenders who assaulted their partners before the 1980s were much less likely to be convicted than other offenders, regardless of gender. Leniency in conviction, however, largely disappeared in the 1980s and 1990s. This trend supports the idea that public concerns affected the response of the courts. It was not found that offenders who assaulted partners were particularly likely to avoid incarceration. No evidence was found to support the hypothesis that offenders who sexually assault people they know are particularly likely to avoid conviction. In general, the evidence does not support the idea that the response of the courts depends on the gender of the offender or victim. The results demonstrate the importance of a comparative approach in studying legal outcomes. Some scholars and activists have criticized the criminal justice system for being too lenient in its response to assaults on wives and female partners. These criticisms have had a major impact on the criminal justice system. It is important to know if the criminal justice system avoids legal sanctions more often for certain crimes than others. This study examined three legal outcomes: arrest, conviction, and incarceration. Table, references
Main Term(s): Criminal justice system analysis
Index Term(s): Arrest and apprehension; Convictions; Criminal justice system effectiveness; Incarceration; Offenders; Sex offenders
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