The Federal criminal sentencing guideline which was struck down by the U. S. Supreme Court in 2005 required that males and females who commit the same crime and have the same prior criminal history be sentenced equally (Oaxaca, Sarnikar, & Sorensen, 2007). By using data obtained from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice records, we examine the existence of any gender-based bias in criminal sentencing decisions (Oaxaca, Sarnikar, & Sorensen, 2007). We treat the crime as the independent variable, and the time served as the dependent variable that will determine these truths.
Additionally, we control the variables through examining random cases that were identical in offense type and prior criminal history. If time served is not equal amongst both male and female, stricter policies should be enforced in order to have fairness in sentencing. Gender Equality: Women Serving Less Time than Men for Identical Crimes Introduction Women are serving lighter sentences than men for identical crimes; figures retrieved by the Department of Justice showed that being male increases a murders chance of receiving a death sentence by more than 20%.
Yet very few women even serve time for crimes such as rape of minors. By looking at the state sentencing commission records, it can be proven that women serve shorter sentences. Can tougher policies be enforced for these discrepancies in sentencing? If it is evident and has been for years, why is there nothing being done about this issue? While many argue that men commit more aggressive crimes than women, studies can prove that some women commit these same heinous crimes.
Unfortunately, leniency for men seems to have no place in the criminal justice system, especially when it comes to the murdering of a spouse. Over the past several years, some women have been allowed to serve little to no time at all for the murder and many other serious crimes. There is now a generalization that women kill out of fear and men kill out of anger (McDonagh, 2003). Crimes such as rape and crimes of passion have also long been prone to the accusation of sexism when sentencing. On August 1, 2001, in Colorado two individuals, Etta Ann Urdiales and Bobbie Hogan were being convicted for murder.
Both individual went to trail with the same judge but different juries: both juries were convinced that both participated equally in the murder. Yet, Etta Anna Urdiales received a 10 year prison sentence, while Bobbi Hogan received the death sentence (Angelucci, 2001). The hypothesis statement for this study is that women receive lighter sentences for the same types of crimes than men; the independent variable in this study is crime, and the dependent variable is sentencing. Literature Review
A study conducted by David Mustard of the University of Georgia, examined sentences of males and females. In his study he used the offences, history, and district as control factors. Additionally it also examined 77,000 cases during the time period in which the federal offender’s guidelines were strict and mandatory. Through the study he concluded that women received 5. 51 fewer months than men in jail. Additionally when adding the control of education, citizenship, age, and dependents, he concluded that women received 5. 47 fewer months than men (Dowdey & Toothman, 2011).
A study published in Justice Quarterly in 2009 found that, for the same type of crime, being male increased the chance of incarceration by 165% (Demuth & Doerner, 2009). Another study which was published by Crime and Delinquency in 1989 examined several non-compliance crimes, while factoring in the number of charges, offenses, prior convictions, race, age, work history, and environment. When examining these factors, it was concluded that there were gender differences as well as racial differences. Women received lighter sentences than men, and whites received lighter sentencing than any other race (Angelucci, 2001).
Yet, another study which was published by the International Journal of the Sociology of Law conducted by researchers Mathew Zingraff and Randall Thomas found that being male increased sentencing length more than any other discriminatory variable (Angelucci, 2001). Another study which was conducted by psychologists Laurie Ragatz of West Virginia University and Brenda Russell of Penn State Berks used internet surveys. They used 458 surveys which explored ways of how prejudice shapes our views on criminal defendants, and how it is ingrained into our minds throughout our lifetime.
Additionally, this study surrounded a trial that occurred in Texas in 2001, in order to research their views. In the case in which the study surrounded a male lover who was thrown out the previous day, and then returned and shot and killed his female lover, and wounded her new lover. All the participants in the study were given a set of instructions and were told that he was getting charged with second degree murder. In the study, they were given the option of convicting the defendant on that charge, going with a less-serious charge of voluntary or involuntary manslaughter, or finding the defendant not guilty by reason of insanity.
In order to destruct levels of uncertainty the researchers had the participants rank on a scale from 1 to 7, the extent in which they believe the defendant was guilty. Then they were told to give an appropriate prison sentence from no time to fifteen more years. For one-quarter of the participants, the defendant was male and for the remaining quarter the defendant was females. In the entire study 49% of the participants voted voluntary manslaughter, while 46 percent went with second degree murder. The conclusions were astounding, it found that men were 1. 5 time more likely to receive a harsher sentences. The female defendants were given significantly shorter sentences and lighter charges as well. Moreover, women also scared lower when asked the question “To what extent do you find the defendant guilty? ” And they scored the highest in terms of satisfying specific legal elements that would justify a voluntary manslaughter verdict, such as great provocation and mitigating circumstances. “ Overall the findings suggested that female defendants were more than likely able to benefit by using the provocation doctrine verses a male.
Additionally, the study can also be interpreted to support blameworthiness attribution theory deriving from the fact that the one receives a lighter sentence when the victim is not female. The females sexual preference did not play a role in the bias such as if they were homosexual or heterosexual. This study proves that gender-bias does play a role in decision making in a criminal trial. (Jacobs, 2010). Research Design The research will use an explanatory design method, which will take a quantitative and qualitative approach.
From taking an explanatory approach the exploration as of why this problem is occurring can be further researched; moreover various factors in the study will be controlled in a quantitative manor. In addition to this from researching the percentages of women who have committed these identical crimes, we can conclude the qualitative research as well. Sampling The sampling plan for this study will consist of the probability type sampling method; the use of this technique will allow every case that qualified for the study, to have an equal chance at becoming a part of the populated study.
Additionally, random sampling will be used; which will provide an unbiased sample needed for this study. The populations for this study are female and male prisoners who have committed the same crime and have the same criminal history. Whereby, 1000 cases from each population will be selected from Texas prisons such as Travis County Unit and Linda Woodman Unit which are all male and all female prisons. These prisons are targeted for this study because they are located in the state of Texas which has a judicial system that is known to be strict in its practices.
This case will use the systematic sampling method; through the use of systematic sampling the case population can be minimized; therefore lower the cost efficiency for this study. Also from using this method, a few cases can be chosen systematically through random choice. | Data Collection The data collection techniques that will be used for the purpose of this study will be from obtaining relevant and existing data from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice records from Travis County Unit and Linda Woodman Unit.
To begin this study, formal written permission of review would be issued to the inmates and Criminal Records Department of Texas to gain access to these records and to make participants aware of the purpose of the study. Since every prisoner may not want to be a participant, there will be 2000 requests sent out to each prison and records department. Once permission is granted, the study will begin by closely examining the records to find participants that fit the criteria of the study. Lastly, participants that have committed the same crime and same criminal history will be then selected through computer generated randomization.
Research Considerations From the use of randomization in this study the one strength is that the use of equal group sizes. In addition to this, there is a lower section of bias, although some bias can be introduced into the study. Also, there is a lower probability perplexity; yet the overall validity and reliability of the study is relatively stable. By using a greater number of cases this would increase both the reliability and validity of this study. The ethical issues involved in this study would be that the records which many inmates find confidential would be used.
Therefore, there may be a confidentiality issue in this study for these inmates used in the testing. Yet, through the reassurance of privacy rights, the inmates promise to confidentiality of their identities would easily be conveyed and established. The studies intent is to not reveal the individuals identities but the possible bias that lies in the sentencing of males and females. Only a male verses female overview of the cases will be release to the public in the study in efforts to determine any bias.
Angelucci, M. (2001). Men Receive Longer Sentencing. Retrieved January 15, 2010, from Los Angelos Daily Journal: http://www.dvmen.org/dv-54.htm Demuth, S., & Doerner, J. (2009). The Independent and Joint Effects of Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Age on Sentencing Outcomes in U.S. Federal Courts . Justice Quarterly, 1-27. Dowdey, S., & Toothman, J. (2011). Do Women Receive Lighter Sentences than Men for the Same Crime? Retrieved January 15, 2011, from Investigation Discovery: http://investigation.discovery.com/women-and-crime/sentencing-women.html Jacobs, T. (2010, August 12). In Crime of Passion, Women Get the Benefit of the Doubt. Retrieved January 15, 2011, from The Masculine Heart: http://masculineheart.blogspot.com/2010/08/in-crimes-of-passion-women-get-benefit.html McDonagh, M. (2003, March 4). Women Should Not Be Allowed to get Away With Murder. Retrieved January 13, 2011, from the Daily Telegraph: