Gender Disparity In Sentencing

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This essay will focus on whether or not gender disparities exist in sentencing and if so, to what degree does this gender disparity exist as well as the reason behind its occurrence. This paper will approach this question by looking at sentencing guidelines itself, specifically how extra-legal factors influence sentencing guidelines. Extra-legal factors such as the familial unit (husband/wife and children), social norms, and gender ideologies will be examined to determine their influence on sentencing for not only females but males as well (Doerner and Demuth 2012). A common misconception many individuals have about gender disparities and sentencing, is to assume that women receive a favorable sentencing outcome in comparison to men, due to…show more content…
As for areas like the deep south that were more patriarchal and had strong gender ideologies, there were lower rates of incarceration. However, when women were incarcerated they received a "strict" sentencing, in other words, sentencing proportional to their offense. Moreover, for the women who were incarcerated, there was less of a focus on extralegal factors and a greater focus on legal factors. A potential explanation for this phenomenon rests with the fact that the selective chivalry women were used to receive in sentencing has seen a decrease due to the change in gender ideals and gender roles (Holland 2010). This brings to light a point regarding another extralegal factor that influenced sentencing, social norms and the social ideologies. Norms and ideologies on who and what women were perceived to be include: the belief that women were less dangerous, less blameworthy, less likely to recidivate, and more likely to be deterred than men. This perceived notion of women's personality is further backed up by statistics that show women commit fewer crimes, as well as less severe and violent crimes in comparison to males (Doerner and Demuth…show more content…
If a woman is living in areas such as the deep south, she is more likely to receive leniency than a woman who is on trial for a crime, while living in areas north of the deep south. It has also been found that depending on where a trial/ crime occurred, marital status and child dependents can play a large role (areas of the deep south) or a small role (areas north of the deep south) in determining a sentence (Holland 2010). According to Doerner and Demuth, it can be said the cause for why areas of the deep south are less likely to incarcerate a female or give women a less favorable outcome, is due to strong social norms and gender ideals that, in general, women are incapable of committing a crime worthy of incarceration. This patriarchal view of women’s innocence can also account for why women who received a “strict” sentencing; the courts tended to focus more on legal factors than extra-legal factors, which goes in accordance with the fact that women are not the only ones to receive a favorable sentencing. If patriarchal views of women are to be ignored, then women would be on equal par with men in terms of extra-legal factors that influence sentencing. Then it wouldn’t be a matter of it being harder for males to receive a more lenient sentencing (for males to receive a leniency, there must be certain external factors, i.e.: single

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