21 September 2020
Prevalence rates indicate that female sexual offending is a serious problem in society, but when it comes to sentencing outcomes, females who have sexually offended (FSOs) tend to receive more lenient sentences than males who have sexually offended (MSOs). It is difficult to draw definitive conclusions based on these findings because potential confounding or case-relevant factors have not been well accounted for. We compare sentencing outcomes for ten cases of female sexual offending matched to ten cases of male sexual offending in New Zealand (NZ). We coded the sentencing notes for underlying case-relevant factors and found that although the factors and the way in which they were applied at sentencing were similar for both FSOs and MSOs, FSOs were significantly less likely to receive a prison sentence than were MSOs. We discuss what leniency means for FSOs in terms of impact on victims, community safety, and the rehabilitative processes that are available to reduce recidivism.
Beeby, A., Hobbs, L., Gross, J., Hayne, H. & Patterson, T. (2020). Gender disparities in sentencing outcomes for sexual offenders. Journal of Sexual Agression. DOI: 10.1080/13552600.2020.1784476
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