Unterschiede bei Verurteilungen: Großer „Gender Gap“ zu Lasten von Männern

Eine interessante Studie behandelt die Unterschiede bei Strafen für Männer und Frauen:

This paper assesses gender disparities in federal criminal cases. It finds large gender gaps favoring women throughout the sentence length distribution (averaging over 60%), conditional on arrest offense, criminal history, and other pre-charge observables. Female arrestees are also significantly likelier to avoid charges and convictions entirely, and twice as likely to avoid incarceration if convicted. Prior studies have reported much smaller sentence gaps because they have ignored the role of charging, plea-bargaining, and sentencing fact-finding in producing sentences. Most studies control for endogenous severity measures that result from these earlier discretionary processes and use samples that have been winnowed by them. I avoid these problems by using a linked dataset tracing cases from arrest through sentencing. Using decomposition methods, I show that most sentence disparity arises from decisions at the earlier stages, and use the rich data to investigate causal theories for these gender gaps.

Quelle:Estimating Gender Disparities in Federal Criminal Cases


  • Frauen erhalten 60% kürzere Strafen
  • Wenn sie festgenommen werden, dann können sie Strafen häufiger ganz vermeiden
  • Es ist doppelt so wahrscheinlich, dass Frauen im Falle einer Verurteilung nicht eingesperrt werden.

Das sind ja schon ganz ordentliche Unterschiede. Es scheint als würde auch hier gelten, dass man Frauen weniger für ihre Taten verantwortlich macht als Männer.

In der Studie werden einige Gründe behandelt, die dies erklären könnten:

  • Es könnte daran liegen, dass die Kategorien, in die die Taten eingeordnet werden, bestimmte Nuancen der Schwere der Tat nicht aufnehmen. In der Studie wird davon ausgegangen, dass dies allenfalls einen kleinen Teil erklären kann, weil die aufgenommenen Daten sehr detailliert waren

Bei Drogenmengen ergäbe sich hingegen ein anderes Bild:

With respect to drug quantity, the data are more informative. Drug quantity and type determine eligibility for mandatory minimums, which explain 29.5% of the post-arrest gender gap in drug cases (Table 6); related Guidelines adjustments can explain a further 3%

  • Die „Girlfriend Theory“ besagt, dass Frauen häufig nur eine geringere Rolle an der Tat zugesprochen wird, sie werden eher als Anhängsel des männlichen Partners gesehen. Sie werden daher als weniger gefährlich, weniger moralisch verantwortlich oder zumindest als gute Quelle für Zeugenaussagen für eine Verurteilung des Täters angesehen.
    Dazu aus der Studie:

    Some lawyers I spoke to suggested that such perceptions are not always justified bythe facts; in cases involving couples, it may just be assumed that the female is the “follower.”The data provide no way to test whether role perceptions are well founded, but theydo suggest that they can partially explain the gender gap. Other than its implications forcooperation departures, the “girlfriend theory” has two testable implications: first, the gendergap should be larger in multi-defendant cases, and second, part of it should be attributable tosentencing adjustments for role in the offense. Both predictions are supported by the data.The gender gap is significantly larger in multi-defendant cases: 66% compared to 51%(Table 5). Approximately 14% of the otherwise-unexplained disparity in non-drug cases and20% in drug cases can potentially be explained by role adjustments (Table 7). The girlfriendtheory appears to explain part, but not most, of the gender gap; it is hard for it to explain thelarge disparities that persist even in single-defendant cases.27

  • Elterliche Verantwortung: Richter fürchten oft die Auswirkungen des Einsperrens auf die Kinder.

    Another possibility is that prosecutors and/or judges worry about the effect of maternal incarceration on children. The estimates are robust to controls for marital status and number of dependents, but these variables do not capture all differences in care responsibilities, including custody status. Other research shows that female defendants are far more likely than men to have primary or sole custody, and incarcerating women more often results in foster care placements (see Hagan and Dinovitzer [1999] for a review of the literature; Koban 1983). In an experiment asking judges to give hypothetical sentences based on short vignettes, Freiburger (2010) found that mentioning childcare reduced judges’ probability of recommending prison, but mentioning financial support for children did not. The childcare theory suggests that one would expect to see the largest gender disparities among single parents, and the smallest among defendants with no children. That expectation is borne out by the data: compare Table 5, Columns 6-8. The TUT estimate is still over 50% among childless defendants, however, so the childcare theory appears not to fully explain the gender gap, but it probably explains part of it.28 On the other hand, the decompositions in Table 7 indicate that, at most, between 1% and 2% of the sentencing gap can be explained by disproportionate invocation of the official “family hardship” departure in the Sentencing Guidelines. Women in the sample receive that departure at three times the rate of men: 2.4% of cases versus 0.8%. But because thedeparture is so rare for both genders, it cannot explain much of the overall disparity.

  • Kooperation: Eine weitere These ist, dass sich Frauen häufiger kooperativ verhalten

    These data provide, at best, limited support for that theory. Conditional on observables, women are modestly but significantly morelikely to receive downward departures for cooperation in another case (20% versus 17%), have higher guilty plea rates (97.5 vs. 96.2%), and have their cases resolved about two weeks sooner on average (a 10% difference). But the interpretation of these differences is not clear. Plea rates, timing, and cooperation are all endogenous, turning on the deals being offered. Moreover, women could be being rewarded more for the same level of cooperation; the actual assistance they provide is unobserved. On all four charge- and conviction-severity scales, women receive modestly but significantly larger charge reductions in plea-bargaining than men do, and far more favorable findings of fact, suggesting that they may be offered better factual stipulations. If women really are inherently more cooperative (or risk-averse), one might think prosecutors could get away with offering them lesser discounts, and still induce frequent guilty pleas. Yet the opposite appears to be true. Whatever the merits of these indicators of cooperativeness, they seem to explain onlyfairly modest portions of the gender gap. Adding a plea and elapsed-time indicator to the reweighting reduces the unexplained disparity by about 8% (Table 5, Col. 21). Disparities in departures for cooperation can explain up to 9% of the otherwise-unexplained gap in drugcases, but no significant share in non-drug cases (Table 7). In addition, the “acceptance of responsibility” reduction and the obstruction of justice enhancement do not explain any substantial portion of the gender gap; in non-drug cases these offset one another, while indrug cases neither is significant (Table 7). Unlike that of the family hardship departure, the limited explanatory power of these adjustments and departures cannot be attributed to rarity or tight legal constraints—all are very common. Formal mechanisms for recognizing women’s purportedly greater cooperativeness are readily available, and yet they explain only a modest share of the disparity in drug cases and none in non-drug cases.

  • Geistige Gesundheit, Abhängigkeit, Mißbrauch und andere mildernde Umstände

    Another theory is that female defendants may have more troubled life circumstances, such as poverty, mental illness, addiction, and abuse histories. If so, they may be perceived as less morally culpable or as candidates for rehabilitation. Criminal defendants often comefrom difficult backgrounds. This could well be disproportionately true for females; perhaps because women more rarely commit crime, those who do are likelier to be in the upper tail of the life-hardship distribution. Prisoner studies show more self-reported mental illness and prior abuse among women. See James and Glaze (2006); Harlow (1999). Starr—Estimating Gender Disparities in Federal Criminal Cases Socioeconomic status is not unobserved, however, and does not seem to explain the gender gap. The main specification includes education, and the results are robust to adding county-level socioeconomic controls and defense counsel type (a strong proxy for poverty). But mental health, addiction, and abuse are not observable unless judges cite them as the basis for a departure. The Guidelines permit departures for “unusual” mental and emotional conditions (U.S.S.G. 5H1.3) and for “significantly reduced mental capacity” (U.S.S.G. 5K2.13). They prohibit departuers for “disadvantaged upbringing” (U.S.S.G. 5H1.12) and in most cases for addiction (U.S.S.G. 5H1.4), although judges have more flexibility to disregard these restrictions after Booker. Together, all such cited bases for departures explain only between 1 and 2% of the otherwise-unexplained gap in sentence length; they are too rare too explain more. If prosecutors or judges take such factors into account in informal ways (as they seem to with family hardship, above), it would be unobservable.

  • Verbindungen zwischen Rasse und Geschlecht

    Columns 11-12 of Table 5 show that the gender gap is substantially larger amongblack than non-black defendants (74% versus 51%). The race-gender interaction adds to ourunderstanding of racial disparity: racial disparities among men significantly favor whites,29 but among women, the race gap in this sample is insignificant (and reversed in sign). Theinteraction also offers another theory for the gender gap: it might partly reflect a “black maleeffect”—a special harshness toward black men, who are by far the most incarcerated group inthe U.S. This possibility is not really an “explanation” for the gender gap, much less a reasonto worry less about it—but it might cause policymakers to understand it differently, as anissue of intersectional race-gender disparity. This theory only goes so far, however—the gender gap even among non-blacks is over 50%, far larger than the race gap among men.

  • Tatsächliche Diskriminierung aufgrund des Geschlechts

    Although several of the factors above appear to explain portions of the gender gap, that gap is large enough that it is plausible that gender discrimination also contributes. If so, several types of discrimination could be at play. The theoretical literature suggests “chivalry” and “paternalism” (see, for example, Franklin and Fearn [2008]). Another theory is selective sympathy: perhaps circumstances like family hardship or “bad influence” appear more sympathetic when it is women who are in them. Psychology experiments have found that attributions of blame and credit are often filtered through expectations that males are “agentic” and active and women are “communal” and passive (see Eagly, Wood, and Diekman [2000] for a review). If so, prosecutors or judges might more readily credit societal or situational explanations for females’ crimes than for males.’ Statistical discrimination is also possible. Perhaps the likeliest such mechanism is that prosecutors or judges might assume men are more dangerous than women. Studies generally find that women have lower recidivism rates, though some of the difference may be explained by characteristics that this study controls for (see Gendreau, Little, and Goggin [1996] for a meta-analysis). I do not have recidivism data to test whether statistical discrimination might be “rational” here. Note that if recidivism risk perceptions are based on individual information about the offender (not based on gender), then it is perfectly permissible to consider them. But punishment decisions based on statistical generalizations 29 Rehavi and Starr (2012) explore these more extensively, finding a 10% unexplained disparity. Starr—Estimating Gender Disparities in Federal Criminal Cases about men and women are unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled thatreliance on gender stereotypes is impermissible even if those stereotypes are statistically well founded (see J.E.B. v. Alabama ex rel T.B., 511 U.S. 127 [1994]).

Finde ich eine gute Studie, die diesen Komplex näher beleuchtet. Es passt gerade im letzten Absatz gut dazu, dass Frauen allgemein eher Nichtverantwortlichkeit zugestanden wird. Im Feminismus würde man von einem „benevolent Sexism“ sprechen, der allerdings von Frauen gerne genutzt wird: Die Frau, die heulend oder unschuldig entsetzt um eine Strafe herum kommt scheint ein Klischee zu sein, welches durchaus seine Berechtigung hat.