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Female Drug Abusers, Narcotics Offenders, and Legal Punishment in China

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 37 Issue: 2 Dated: March/April 2009 Pages: 133-141
Bin Liang; Hong Lu; Melanie Taylor
Date Published
April 2009
9 pages
This study addressed possible gender disparity in sentencing for drug trafficking cases in Chinese criminal courts.
Findings show that female and male drug traffickers tend to differ in their patterns of participation in drug trafficking crime. While drug traffickers tended to work in groups, a small percentage of traffickers worked alone. In comparison, female traffickers were far more likely to work alone than male traffickers. Similarly, while the majority of drug traffickers were convicted for completed crimes, the data suggested that females were convicted exclusively for engaging in completed crimes. In contrast, a small percentage of male traffickers were convicted for attempted crimes. One possible answer for this significant difference could be that Chinese police are less likely to arrest women who merely attempted a crime and prosecutors are unwilling to charge women for such attempted crimes, supporting a benevolent and paternalist attitude towards female offenders. While legal representation in criminal cases remained relatively low in China, female traffickers were more likely to hire an attorney than male traffickers. Gender significantly affected the sentencing severity among drug traffickers with female traffickers receiving more lenient sentences than male traffickers even in cases where the nature of their crimes and criminal background were comparable. Regarding sentencing dispositions, the legal processes for male and female drug traffickers were very similar. Finally, gender disparity in sentencing may be more prominent in less serious cases and less prominent in more serious cases. Data were collected from 325 drug trafficking cases from published judicial judgment documents (a judicial judgment document in China is similar to a judicial ruling in the U.S.) Tables, appendix, notes, and references