Gender Equality: Women Serving Less Time Than Men for Identical Crimes

Topics: Crime, Murder, Criminal law Pages: 5 (1888 words) Published: March 14, 2011

Gender Equality: Women Serving Less Time than Men for Identical Crimes

The Federal criminal sentencing guideline which was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 required that males and females who commit the same crime and have the same prior criminal history be sentenced equally (Oaxaca, Sarnikar, & Sorensen, 2007). By using data obtained from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice records, we examine the existence of any gender-based bias in criminal sentencing decisions (Oaxaca, Sarnikar, & Sorensen, 2007). We treat the crime as the independent variable, and the time served as the dependent variable that will determine these truths. Additionally, we control the variables through examining random cases that were identical in offense type and prior criminal history. If time served is not equal amongst both male and female, stricter policies should be enforced in order to have fairness in sentencing.

Gender Equality: Women Serving Less Time than Men for Identical Crimes Introduction
Women are serving lighter sentences than men for identical crimes; figures retrieved by the Department of Justice showed that being male increases a murders chance of receiving a death sentence by more than 20%. Yet very few women even serve time for crimes such as rape of minors. By looking at the state sentencing commission records, it can be proven that women serve shorter sentences. Can tougher policies be enforced for these discrepancies in sentencing? If it is evident and has been for years, why is there nothing being done about this issue? While many argue that men commit more aggressive crimes than women, studies can prove that some women commit these same heinous crimes. Unfortunately, leniency for men seems to have no place in the criminal justice system, especially when it comes to the murdering of a spouse. Over the past several years, some women have been allowed to serve little to no time at all for the murder and many other serious crimes. There is now a generalization that women kill out of fear and men kill out of anger (McDonagh, 2003). Crimes such as rape and crimes of passion have also long been prone to the accusation of sexism when sentencing. On August 1, 2001, in Colorado two individuals, Etta Ann Urdiales and Bobbie Hogan were being convicted for murder. Both individual went to trail with the same judge but different juries: both juries were convinced that both participated equally in the murder. Yet, Etta Anna Urdiales received a 10 year prison sentence, while Bobbi Hogan received the death sentence (Angelucci, 2001). The hypothesis statement for this study is that women receive lighter sentences for the same types of crimes than men; the independent variable in this study is crime, and the dependent variable is sentencing.

Literature Review
A study conducted by David Mustard of the University of Georgia, examined sentences of males and females. In his study he used the offences, history, and district as control factors. Additionally it also examined 77,000 cases during the time period in which the federal offender’s guidelines were strict and mandatory. Through the study he concluded that women received 5.51 fewer months than men in jail. Additionally when adding the control of education, citizenship, age, and dependents, he concluded that women received 5.47 fewer months than men (Dowdey & Toothman, 2011).A study published in Justice Quarterly in 2009 found that, for the same type of crime, being male increased the chance of incarceration by 165% (Demuth & Doerner, 2009). Another study which was published by Crime and Delinquency in 1989 examined several non-compliance crimes, while factoring in the number of charges, offenses, prior convictions, race, age, work history, and environment. When examining these factors, it was concluded that there were gender differences as well as racial differences. Women received lighter sentences...
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