International Journal of the Sociology of Law Volume: 21 Issue: 3 Dated: (September 1993) Pages: 189-218
Sentencing by gender was contrasted using information collected from Australia's two most populous states (New South Wales and Victoria) on 110 cases from the 1988-1990 period, and judge remarks in 56 homicide cases involving adult sexual intimates were evaluated to identify variables contributing to more lenient sanctions.
The 60 cases from New South Wales and the 50 cases from Victoria included information on offender-victim relationships, witness accounts, professional reports, and judge remarks at sentencing. Verdict information was available for 76 perpetrators of homicide involving adult sexual intimates. The lack of general comprehension of the gravity and criminality of domestic violence was illustrated in several cases in which men were killed. This lack of comprehension was also apparent in numerous cases when judges made comments about the inappropriateness of homicide as a remedy for marital difficulties. Anytime a judge mentioned the concept of reasonable behavior, it was done in the context of what an average person would have done and not how a battered woman might be expected to behave. Different judges appeared to define the importance of mental illness and alleged infidelity in a discretionary fashion. The result was a range of sentences for homicide dispositions that exhibited no obvious consistency. Although some males were found guilty of murder in situations where their wife or estranged wife had been less than the judge's ideal of female virtue, overall victim characteristics mitigiated sentences. Other somewhat controversial mitigators included the perpetrator's work history, commitment to family, and age. 42 references and 13 notes