Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Are women more likely to get away with crime than men?

According to studies, men are more likely to commit a crime than women. However when we look at the sentencing times for men and women, some say that women get off easier with shorter sentences.

There is definitely gender prejudice in sentencing and most people are upset why this. Why do women get special treatment compared to men?

If you look at the issue through statistics, you will see how women are treated favourably, while men aren't given any leniency:

-- 63.3% of men who were sentenced in higher courts received a penalty of imprisonment, compared to just 46.7% of women.

-- Women get an average term of imprisonment of 42.4 months, compared to 60.3 months for men.

-- Male drunk drivers receive fines which are 9.7% higher than those received by women for the same offence.

-- Men are 1.73 times more likely to be sent to prison compared to women.

-- Men's prison sentences are, on average, 1.16 months longer than those received by women.

If we look at some factors that impact someone's prison sentence, such as criminal history, their decision to plead guilty and the charges faced, we also see that again male and females are treated very differently:

A male’s criminal history was given more weight compared to that of females – and generally meant that they received a harsher sentence.

When we look at this information, it leads us to see that it is in fact true that the law does show signs of gender prejudice. 

But what motivates women to commit crimes in the first place? Their reasons are far different to a man's reason for committing a crime. 

For instance, a study  found that women are more likely to be incarcerated for property, fraud and drug-related crimes, while men are more likely to be sent to prison for violent crimes such as assault and murder.

The study also found that women who commit crime are more likely to have experienced drug problems, physical and emotional abuse, and economic hardship when compared to their male counterparts. Researchers also identified five risk factors that increased the likelihood of a woman engaging in criminal activity: parental or familial issues, childhood abuse and neglect, mental illness, a lack of social support and association with other drug users.

In particular, a study found that the severity of a woman’s drug use “is more closely related to their criminality than it is for men, particularly for prostitution and property crime activities.”
Without accounting for these important considerations, it is impossible to accurately compare the treatment of men and women in the judicial system.

As stated, women often experience very different issues to men, and any “decrease” in the sentence may simply reflect these experiences. Indeed, if these matters were taken into account and similar cases were compared against one another, there might be very little difference in sentences.

In a society striving for, and largely achieving, sexual equality, no legitimate distinction can or should be drawn between offenders solely on the basis of gender.

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