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NCJ Number: 93314 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Changes in the Sentencing Patterns of Male and Female Criminal Defendants
Journal: Prison Journal  Volume:63  Issue:2  Dated:(Autumn/Winter 1983)  Pages:3-11
Author(s): C Kempinen
Date Published: 1983
Page Count: 9
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
NCJRS Photocopy Services
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America

NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Findings from this study provide some evidence to suggest that the disparity in the sentencing of men and women offenders is diminishing.
Abstract: In investigating whether there have been changes in the sentencing of male and female defendants, a major concern was that there be a sufficient number of cases involving female defendants to permit comparisons with male defendants, while simultaneously controlling for individual offenses. Further, it was desired that the data cover a time span that would reflect the impact that the women's movement might have had on the sentencing of female defendants. Data covered all persons processed through the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas from 1970 through 1975. On the average, there were just over 62,000 persons brought through the courts per year; about 8 percent of these cases involved female defendants. It was believed that the year 1970-75 would reflect any impact the women's movement might have on sentencing. To conduct meaningful analysis, it was arbitrarily decided that the sample would be composed of persons convicted of offenses which involved at least an average of 50 women per year. Twenty-two different types of offenses were identified. To analyze the data, contingency tables were developed to determine whether there were differences in the sentencing of men and women. Sentences were classified as either fines, probation, or incarceration. The findings do indicate that women receive more lenient sentences than men, with this being most apparent for personal (homicide, murder 2, voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, and aggravated assault) and serious property (robbery and burglary) offenses. A progressive severity in the sentencing for women compared to men was noted for 15 of the 22 offenses. The change was significant for the offenses of murder 2, involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, robbery, minor fraud, and miscellaneous weapons. In comparison to men, a larger percentage of women were being incarcerated in 1975 than in 1970 for five of these six offenses. The exception was aggravated assault. Possible explanations for these findings are presented, including the general thrust over the period studied for judges to be given less sentencing discretion and to tailor sentencing consistently to the severity of the crime without regard to offender characteristics. Twenty-one references are listed, and tabular data are provided.
Index Term(s): Female offenders; Pennsylvania; Sentencing disparity
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