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Sex Differences in the Likelihood of Arrest

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 32 Issue: 5 Dated: September/October 2004 Pages: 443-454
Lisa Stolzenberg; Stewart J. D'Alessio
Kent B. Joscelyn
Date Published
September 2004
12 pages
Using the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), this study investigated whether differential offending or differential selection by police explained the under representation of females in official arrest statistics.
Society acknowledges that women are arrested at a much lower rate than men in society. Using the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) for 2000, this study assessed the effect of a criminal offender’s sex or gender on the probability of arrest. The study was organized in terms of two competing hypotheses: the differential crime hypothesis and the differential arrest hypothesis. Seven offenses were analyzed: kidnapping, forcible rape, forcible fondling, robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault, and intimidation. The results indicated that the probability of arrest for females was: (1) 28 percent lower for kidnapping; (2) 48 percent lower for forcible fondling; (3) 9 percent lower for simple assault; and (4) 27 percent lower for intimidation than males. The analyses suggest that a criminal offender’s sex did influence police decisionmaking, casting doubt on the differential crime hypothesis. In addition, the offender’s sex on the probability of arrest was sometimes more pronounced when an individual was Black. The findings suggest that the lower arrest rate for females is partly the result of leniency shown women by law enforcement personnel. References