Comparing Apples to Oranges: Differences in Women’s and Men’s Incarceration and Sentencing Outcomes

  title={Comparing Apples to Oranges: Differences in Women’s and Men’s Incarceration and Sentencing Outcomes},
  author={Kristin F. Butcher and Kyung H. Park and Anne Morrison Piehl},
  journal={Journal of Labor Economics},
  pages={S201 - S234}
Using detailed administrative records, we find that, on average, women receive lighter sentences in comparison with men along both extensive and intensive margins. Using parametric and semiparametric decomposition methods, roughly 30% of the gender differences in incarceration cannot be explained by the observed criminal characteristics of offense and offender. We also find evidence of considerable heterogeneity across judges in their treatment of female and male offenders. There is little… 

Gender Disparities in Sentencing

This paper uses the universe of convictions in France between 2000 and 2003 to document the gender gap in sentencing. It reveals three main findings. First, during this period, and after controlling

The Stratification of Justice: Evaluating the Relationship between Gender, Race, and Crime

Today, 2.3 million Americans are incarcerated; 1,564,000 of those people are not White. This illustrates a clear racial disparity within the U.S. justice system in terms of which individuals are

The Persistence of the Criminal Justice Gender Gap: Evidence from 200 Years of Judicial Decisions

We document persistent gender gaps favoring females in jury convictions and judges’ sentences in nearly 200 years of London trials, which are unexplained by case characteristics. We find that three

Female Judges and In-group Bias in Labor Courts

Does judge gender influence the outcome of sentences in labor courts? We address this question using data on judges, defendants (firms), and plaintiffs (workers) from labor court cases of São Paulo

The Effect of Own-Gender Jurors on Conviction Rates

Despite concerns about gender bias in general and jurors’ gender in particular, little is known about the effect of jurors’ gender on conviction rates. We identify the effect of own-gender jurors by

Racial Disparities in Lifer Parole Outcomes: The Hidden Role of Professional Evaluations

One in seven people in prison in the US is serving a life sentence, and most of these people will eventually be eligible for discretionary parole release. Yet parole hearings are notoriously

The Effect of Own-Gender Juries on Conviction Rates

This paper examines the extent to which criminal conviction rates are affected by the similarity in gender of the defendant and jury. To identify effects, we exploit random variation in both the

Racial Disparities in Law Enforcement: The Role of In-Group Bias and Electoral Pressures

Racial disparities are widespread throughout the U.S. justice system; in arrests and incarceration. These disparities are typically explained by appealing to racial biases among the police and the

Judge Effects, Case Characteristics, and Plea Bargaining

A growing literature uses random assignment of cases to judges to examine criminal sentencing. To extend this line of work, we directly examine how judicial “harshness” varies with the seriousness of

Lady Injustice: The Moderating Effect of Ambivalent Sexism in a Mock Case of Intimate Partner Homicide

Extra-legal biases have an undue effect on legal proceedings, warranting explorations of gender bias in the courtroom to promote and maintain just verdicts. We used an experimentally manipulated mock



Gender and Sentencing of Drug Offenders: Is Chivalry Dead?

Citing figures showing dramatic increases in the number of women imprisoned for drug offenses since 1980, Chesney-Lind (1995: 111) concludes that the ‘war on drugs' has translated into a war on

Estimating Gender Disparities in Federal Criminal Cases

This paper assesses and decomposes gender disparities in federal criminal cases. It finds large unexplained gaps favoring women throughout the sentence length distribution, conditional on arrest

Male Incarceration, the Marriage Market, and Female Outcomes

This paper studies how rising male incarceration has affected women through its effect on the marriage market. Variation in marriage-market shocks arising from incarceration is isolated using two

The Impact of Incarceration in State Prison on the Employment Prospects of Women

This paper uses a unique data set constructed from two sets of administrative records to examine the relationship between incarceration and employment rates for former female state prisoners from

Do You Receive a Lighter Prison Sentence Because You Are a Woman or a White? An Economic Analysis of the Federal Criminal Sentencing Guidelines

Abstract Using data obtained from the United States Sentencing Commission’s records, we examine the extent to which the Federal Criminal Sentencing Guidelines curbed judicial sentencing preferences

Juvenile Incarceration, Human Capital and Future Crime: Evidence from Randomly-Assigned Judges

Over 130,000 juveniles are detained in the US each year with 70,000 in detention on any given day, yet little is known whether such a penalty deters future crime or interrupts social and human


This paper investigates the preand post-release impacts of incarceration on criminal behavior, economic wellbeing and family formation using new data from Harris County, Texas. The research design


This paper examines 77,236 federal offenders sentenced under the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 and concludes the following. First, after controlling for extensive criminological, demographic, and

Female Offenders' Use of Social Welfare Programs Before and after Jail and Prison: Does Prison Cause Welfare Dependency?

Prior studies indicate that incarcerated women are among the most economically disadvantaged populations in the U.S. An important difference between them and male offenders is that these women are

Racial, Ethnic, and Gender Disparities in Sentencing: Evidence from the U.S. Federal Courts*

This paper examines 77,236 federal offenders sentenced under the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 and concludes the following. First, after controlling for extensive criminological, demographic, and