Gender, Crime, and Punishment


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Kathleen Daly

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Are men and women who are prosecuted for similar crimes punished differently? If it is true, as is commonly assumed, that women are sentenced more leniently than men, does this tendency vary by class and race?

In this book Kathleen Daly explores these issues by analyzing women's and men's cases that are routinely processed in felony courts—cases of homicide, aggravated assault, robbery, larceny, and drug offenses. Daly first presents a statistical analysis of sentencing disparity for a wide sample of cases. Then, from within this sample, she compares forty matched pairs of women and men accused and convicted of statutorily similar offenses, examining in each case the presentence investigation reports and transcripts of the remarks made in court on the day of sentencing. From these documents, Daly constructs a portrait of each defendant and a narrative for each crime, and she identifies the theory of punishment the judge used to justify the sentence imposed. She analyzes whether men and women are pulled into crime in different ways, whether their offenses are comparably serious, and whether court officials use different conceptions of justice in sentencing men and women. By providing both numerical and narrative descriptions of crime and punishment, Daly shows the inadequacies of quantitative analysis: although her statistics, like those of other studies, suggest that women are favored, her close comparison of the matched pairs indicates that gender differences are negligible when the details of the cases are taken into consideration.

Kathleen Daly is visiting associate professor of sociology at the University of Michigan.

"Kathleen Daly's new book promises to make a major contribution to the de-masculinization of criminology."—Mary Coombs, Michigan Law Review

"[This] may well be the most important new book of the past year."—Russ Immarigeon, IARCA Journal

"A compelling contribution to literature on gender, crime, and the interpretation of social science data."—Choice

"Gender, Crime, and Punishment makes an important contribution to the growing body of research on the effects of gender on social control and to feminist research and theory."—Darrell Steffensmeier, American Journal of Sociology

"Daly's analysis adds considerably to the effort to understand how justice is applied differentially to men and women. . . . The sophistication of triangulation strategies employed should make it of interest to a wide audience of legal and criminal justice scholars, criminologists, and sociologists."—Susan J. Roxburgh, The Annals of the American Academy

"Daly's book is most impressive in its use of feminist methodology and its contribution to sentencing literature. . . . [It] is ground breaking in the area of gender and sentencing disparity. It is a required text for those interested at either an introductory or advanced level in gender and sentencing as well as feminist methodology. . . . Daly's research provides a point of reference from which future studies of a similar quality can emerge."—Colleen Anne Dell, Women and Criminal Justice

"This is a pioneering interdisciplinary work that will be required reading for anyone seriously interested in feminism and the law, sentencing theory, and empirical methods for the study of criminal courts."—David C. Baldus, Professor of Law, University of Iowa

Winner of the 1995 Michael Hindelang Book Award given by the American Society of Criminology
ISBN: 9780300068665
Publication Date: August 28, 1996
352 pages, 6 x 9