Sentencing Disparities Women essay

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            Sentencing disparities refers to the lenient treatment that a person may get in the courts of justice (Etta, 200). The leniency can be based on different issues that can be observed. In this discussion we focus on different disparities and their effects as seen in the US judiciary system. For instance, women have generally received leniency from the courts due to different reasons as observed by scholars in their theories. The paternalism theory sites that there are different types of disparities (Fearn, 2005). These are race and gender disparities. Gender disparities as observed has left more male of the European nation defendants receive heavier punishment than their female counterparts of the same race (Ward et al, 2009). It is also evident that race disparities have left more of the non-white defendants exposed to heavier punishment than their female counterparts of the white race (Farrell et al, 2009). The police also have the same notion in handling the offenders (Crew, 1991). We shall also look at the disparities in the court officers’ representation in the court system.

Understanding the disparities

            Despite the title of the article it is more about sentencing men than women. Any cases on how courts punish female defendants cannot be complete without understanding the sentences given to male defendants who commit the same crime. This is important because there is a great difference in the sentences imposed on women and men. The disparities based on gender are persistent and visible in the US as a nation. To more precise gender related disparity casers are more than those based on geography or ethnicity and race (Fearn, 2005). This clearly depicts that the courts punish men more often than women. In case they punish the women, these women receive less punishment while the male get greater punishment for the same crime (Crew, 1991). In this context we fail to understand the reason behind the differences (Farrell et al, 2009). In process of determinate sentencing there is increase in consistency in sentencing the decrease unwarranted differences (Crew, 1991).

            According to criminologists there are three types of sentencing disparities that inhabit their attention (Etta, 200). First of all there is a great disparity in the numbers of male and female individuals who are sentenced. How many women and men face criminal charges in relation to their population representation? This is a critical question to answer since it needs some criminality assessment (Fearn, 2005). A part from criminality assessment we also need to assess prosecutorial decisions and the arrest rates for both women and men offenders. Secondly the study of disparity should also incarceration basing on gender (Crew, 1991). This means that even if women appear before a court for sentencing they are likely to get alternative sentencing or probationary sentence (Ward et al, 2009). These sentences may include home confinement, prison sentences or lieu of jail.

            Most critics mostly consider sentence severity. It reflects that one group among the defendants get less sentence as compared to the other when they have committed similar crimes. The element of measuring quantity is the simplest of all the cases. The other conditions can be dangerous indicators of severity (Ward, 2009). These indicators may include programming opportunities, the distance of the institution from the residence of the defendant and the relatives then the prison violence (Crew, 1991). These factors are very dangerous indicators of severity although some use them while considering disparity (Farrell et al, 2009).


            It has been found that the number of men who face criminal is higher in relation to women. Federal statics are the most available so we can use it to verify the disparity. The gap between men and women facing criminal charges depending on the number is relatively sizeable and has continued to broaden (Ward et al, 2009).  The sentencing report from the US Sentencing Commission in 2008 has the following figures. The total number of offenders was 76478 in the federal courts who were sentenced (Etta, 200). Out of this men were 63515 which marks a percentage of 87.2% while women were 9302 this gives a percentage of 12.8%. The total number of offenders in 2007 was 70,004 (Crew, 1991). Basing on the percentage the number of women dropped from (13.5% to 12.8%). The interesting part of it is that the number of sentenced offenders has been increasing since the 2,000 while the number of sentenced women remained almost the same (Fearn, 2005). In 2,000 the number was9451, then in 2007 it was 9302 while in 2008 the total number of the sentenced offenders was 9302 (Ward, 2009). From the statistics we can see that the total numbers of offenders have kept on increasing from one year to the other. Significantly the number of men has kept increasing while that of women has remained almost constant therefore the gap between men and women has gone high (Farrell et al, 2009).

            If there is an increase in the female representation in the judiciary system the disparity in this context will have to reduce. Then the length of imprisonment and the likely hood for being imprisoned also reduces (Fearn, 2005).  The results when testing gender disparity basing on the workforce shows a mixture of results which indicates that black judges are lenient to women more than men. In this context there are less incidences of gender disparity.  

Recently social scientists have considered incarceration in determining disparity. The lessons from the study indicate great disparity depending on the ethnic and racial reasons. The difference is based incarceration but not on the sentence length (Crew, 1991). A Hispanic or a black offender will get a heavier punishment while the white counterpart receives a lighter or even no punishment for the same crime that is committed. This happens even when education factors are constant.  These disparities normally differ in different categories of offence. For example they broaden in drugs and drug cases category (Farrell et al, 2009). A white drug dealer has low chances for imprisonment while a Hispanic drug dealer has the highest potential of getting imprisoned. This is 60% for the Hispanic against 40% of the white (Crew, 1991).


            According to the findings we can tell that sentence disparities are caused by different factors. First we identified ethnic and race cause disparity in determining court cases in the US (Etta, 200). The other greater cause of sentence disparity is gender. Women are leniently treated by the court. This is due to different issues. The court think that the female have lower chances of protecting their interests (Fearn, 2005). They are also treated lenient due to the dependence of the children on them. Incarceration is another cause of disparity in that people of the white caliber are treated differently from their fellow defendants from other nations (Ward et al, 2009). One solution to reduce gender disparity is to increase the composition of the judiciary. All members in the US should be represented in the judicial system (Crew, 1991).  

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