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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 82852 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Sex-Based Differences in the Sentencing of Aduth Criminal Defendants - An Empirical Test and Adult Overview
Journal: Sociology and Social Research  Volume:66  Issue:3  Dated:(April 1982)  Pages:289-304
Author(s): D Steffensmeier; J H Kramer
Date Published: 1982
Page Count: 16
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Sex-based differences in the sentencing of adult criminal defendants are empirically and theoretically assessed.
Abstract: Following a brief review of the available research, results are presented from sentencing recommendations obtained from three subject samples: a general public sample, a college student sample, and a sample of prison inmates. Further, the sentencing responses of the general public to hypothetical male and female defendants are compared with actual sentencing practices of felony courts in the State where this study was conducted. The study shows that female defendants receive less severe sentences than male defendants, a pattern which held for all three samples in the study. Females defendants are also treated more leniently according to official court records in the State where the survey was conducted. While these findings indicate the criminal justice system's preferential treatment of offenders, the data also indicate that with the exception of a few offenses (e.g., seduction of a minor,) the differences in sentencing of male and female defendants are likely to be small for a given offense. Sex-based differences in sentencing appear to be based on beliefs about women as weaker, less responsible, less likely to get into trouble with the law, less dangerous, more amenable to rehabilitation, and more likely to be harmed by a harsh disposition. Further, the special nature and treatment of female defendants can be linked to women's customary economic and political position, since women are viewed as being important for the stability of the family and the performance of homemaker duties for their children and husbands. Incarcerating women would therefore be viewed as especially disruptive to the nuclear family. Tabular data, 48 references, and 7 notes are provided. (Author summary modified)
Index Term(s): Sentencing/Sanctions; Sex discrimination
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