The following excerpts are from a University of Michigan Law School article published in 2012 about jail sentences between genders. Some of the findings are quite surprising and go against mainstream ideas.
“Prof. Starr’s recent paper, “Estimating Gender Disparities in Federal Criminal Cases,” looks closely at a large dataset of federal cases, and reveals some significant findings.”
“After controlling for the arrest offense, criminal history, and other prior characteristics, “men receive 63% longer sentences on average than women do,” and “[w]omen are…twice as likely to avoid incarceration if convicted.” This gender gap is about six times as large as the racial disparity that Prof. Starr found in another recent paper.”
“Prof. Starr emphasized that it is not possible to “prove” gender discrimination with data like hers, because it is always possible that two seemingly similar cases could differ in ways not captured by the data. Given the size of the apparent gender gap and the richness of the dataset (which allowed many alternative explanations to be explored), however, Starr believes that there is “pretty good reason to suspect that disparate treatment may be one of the causes of this gap.”
“If men and women are being treated differently by prosecutors and judges, what should be done about it? Prof. Starr leaves that question to policymakers, but she does note that the solution “is not necessarily to lock up a lot more women, but perhaps to reconsider the decision-making criteria that are applied to men. About one in every fifty American men is currently behind bars, and we could think about gender disparity as perhaps being a key dimension of that problem.”
I always believed that racial disparities between jail sentences were much more pronounced than between genders. However, after reading this brief report, I was disheartened to find that the jail sentences disparity is much larger between genders. Here is the link to the article: