Sonja B Starr: ‘Men receive 63% longer prison sentences on average than women do’

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.

About Mike Buchanan

I'm a men's human rights advocate, writer, and publisher. My primary focus is leading the political party I launched in 2013, Justice for Men & Boys (and the women who love them). I still work actively on two campaigns I launched in early 2012, Campaign for Merit in Business and the Anti-Feminism League. In 2014 I launched The Alternative Sexism Project, aiming to raise public understanding that the sexism faced by men and boys has far more grievous consequences than the sexism faced by women and girls.
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  • I am aware of research in NZ and Australia on this and this does refer to research in the Uk. I will try to dig it out. It seems to be quite a strand in “feminist” research in the legal systems in at least the anglophone world. The NZ research identifies a number of factors in the higher tarrif for mails. 
    A. Assumptions of agency. Males are assumed to me more able to discern right and wrong and choose wrong. 
    B. An assumption that illness, mental illness/stress plays  a part in female offending reducing responsibility. 
    C. Women are very easily cooerced and so aren’t fully responsible for their actions. 
    D. The above are likely to be mitigation in senencing as is the emotional impact on either the women of her family . This impact being completely ignored for males . 

    Of course one strand of feminism seeks to challenge this as they want to assert women’s agency and culpability. However these views don’t fit the dominant narrative that actually has more of a mid Victorian flavour that women are generally mentally ill or upset if they commit crimes. Not fully a responsible adult.

    • Thanks Nigel. In the past five years I haven’t personally encountered the ‘one strand of feminism’ which seeks to ‘assert women’s agency and culpability’. Not ONCE. I think it’s fair to assume, then, if it exists, it’s some bizarre PR exercise. In reality feminists press for the state to hold women no more responsible for their actions and inactions than ill-tempered two-year-old children. Which, in consequence, the state does.