We’ve just been informed of a very interesting paper published in September 2012. It was written by Sonja B Starr of the University of Michigan Law School, and it’s titled, ‘Estimating Gender Disparities in Federal criminal Cases’. A link to the paper online:
The first paragraph of the Conclusion:
This study finds dramatic unexplained gender gaps in federal criminal cases. Conditional on arrest offense, criminal history, and other pre-charge observables, men receive 63% longer sentences on average than women do. Women are also significantly likelier to avoid charges and convictions, and twice as likely to avoid incarceration if convicted. There are large unexplained gaps across the sentence distribution, and across a wide variety of specifications, subsamples, and estimation strategies. The data cannot disentangle all possible causes of these gaps, but they do suggest that certain factors (such as childcare and offense roles) are partial but not complete explanations, even combined.
We’re not aware of an equivalent study carried out in the UK, but we doubt the findings would be markedly different. Childcare remains a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card for women. Do women suffer from amnesia when they commit crimes? Do they forget they have children? Or do they simply know how to play the system to their personal advantage, in a way men rarely can? We all know the answer to these questions, don’t we?
We shall be alerting the Fawcett Society to the outrageous gender sentencing gap, and look forward to them campaigning vigorously against it.