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Gender Differences in the Sentencing of Felony Offenders

NCJ Number
Federal Probation Volume: 51 Issue: 1 Dated: (March 1987) Pages: 49-55
J B Johnston; T D Kennedy; I G Shuman
Date Published
7 pages
Gender differences in sentencing were examined in data for 1,249 male and 1,241 females sentenced as first-time, 'nondangerous' offenders found guilty of serious crimes in Maricopa County, Ariz., between 1979-1983.
Of all cases, 98.1 percent were resolved through pleas. Females were more likely to have outcomes determined by pleas to reduced charges than were males. Fewer women (17 percent) than men (28 percent) were incarcerated, but sentence dispositions varied greatly across the eight major offense categories. While the percentage of males incarcerated for each category always exceeded that of women, women were more likely to be sentenced to jail for robbery and assault than were men; men were more likely than women to be incarcerated for property crime. This suggests that women may be sanctioned more harshly when their behavior violates sex-role stereotypes. Finally, comparisons of sentence lengths indicates that prison terms of males and females did not differ, the terms of probation for males were significantly longer than for females, and males also received significantly longer jail terms. 5 tables and 40 references.