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Gender, Race, and Sentencing

Kathleen Daly and Michael Tonry
Crime and Justice
Vol. 22 (1997), pp. 201-252
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1147574
Page Count: 52
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Gender, Race, and Sentencing
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Abstract

Race and gender pose empirical and policy problems that are both similar and different for the U. S. criminal justice system. They are similar in that blacks and women occupy subordinate social and economic positions in American life, and their interests are less likely to be represented in the justice system than are those of white men. They are different in that blacks are overrepresented in arrest statistics and jail and prison populations while women are underrepresented. If over- (or under-) representation is assumed to result from similar effects of bias and subordination, the two patterns are hard to explain. The empirical literature on criminal courts reveals policy dilemmas in achieving "just" sentencing practices. Blacks (and especially black men) may be more likely than white men or women to benefit from tightly limited discretion and limited individualization of sentencing whereas women (both black and white) may be more likely to benefit from broader discretion and greater individualization. Future policies will need to confront the competing demands of justice that race and gender pose in the official response to crime.

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