Critical Thinking

The treated more favorably by the criminal justice

            The
central aim of this essay is to analyse the fact that female defendants are
treated more favorably by the criminal justice system, and to find the main reasons
why females and males are dealt with differently by the criminal justice system.
In the attempt to explain why the number of women committing crimes is
incomparably lower than that of men, some researchers approached the hypothesis
according to which the criminal justice system would provide more understanding
in the cases where the authors were women, being more tolerant or less harshly
with delinquent women than men committing crimes.  According to the Ministry of Justice statistics,
between 2003 and 2008, the conviction rate increased for both male and female
defendants, however it has been a little higher for females than males in the
last years. Between 1995 and 2010, the number of women in prison in England and
Wales become more than double, from 1.979 to 4.236. The increase in the number
of women in penitentiaries is due to “the equalization” efforts made by the
criminal justice system, which has a more pronounced effect on women than on
men. Although the women’s prison population declined over the last few years,
in 2017 women represented around 5% of the whole prison population in the UK. In
the Crown Court, male defendants have more chances to remain in custody than
female defendants, and from all of the defendants that remain in custody, male
defendants have more chances to receive an immediate custodial sentence. In the
last five years, custody was the most common sentence for males, whilst the
most common sentences for females were community sentences, also from all of
male and female sentenced to custody, the average lengths of the sentences  were lower for female offenders compared to
male offenders.  

There are two main concepts to explain the differential
treatment between man and women in the criminal justice system, chivalry thesis
and double deviance theory. Trying to explain the discrepancies between the
crimes committed by men in comparison with women, some sociologists argue that official
statistics underestimate the amount of female crime.  The chivalry thesis states that women are
treated more tolerantly than men by the criminal justice system, thus women’s
crimes are less likely to end up in official statistics. Male chivalry means
that the police officers, magistrates and judges tend to be protective with
women, therefore women are less likely to be charged and the courts will tend to
establish women a less harsh sentence, even if they committed the same crime as
men. The alternative to the chivalry thesis is the double deviance theory, a
theory which states that women are treated more harshly by the criminal justice
system because they are guilty of being doubly deviant. They have deviated from
social norms by breaking the law, the society considers that it is less
acceptable for women to break the law, and deviated from gender norms which
states how women should behave, they should be passive, nurturing, caring, less
harmful, and more obedient. 

            It is said that the offenses committed by
women are an indicator of the role played by them in the society. From this
perspective, women can almost be considered equal to men because in the past
years they have become more involved in the criminal world. Regarding the
presence of women in the criminal world, things are looking a lot different now
from the last thirty years. According to sociologists, criminality is more and
more opened and offering more opportunities to women. Typically offences to men
in the past are now being committed by more and more women and the statistics
show that it is a phenomenon with an exponential growth. However, according to
the chivalry thesis the criminal justice system is more tolerant to women and
the authorities are less willing to arrest them, to punish them or to deprive
them from freedom. The criminal justice system is largely dominated by men,
from police officers to judges, the big majority of employees in the system is
represented by male gender. This could be one of the reasons why the chivalry
thesis is justified, and female offenders have the possibility of being treated
leniently by the male representatives in the criminal justice system. While
feminists consider that the criminal justice system is against them, official studies
show that female offenders are treated more indulgently. The first and most
important evidence of chivalry in the criminal justice are the self report
studies which demonstrate first of all the existence of unreported crimes, and
second that women in reality commit far more crimes than reported. The second
evidence is that official statistics show that female suspects are more likely
to be cautioned than charged. After the arrest, women are more likely than men
to be released and to be given a community sentence.

 Theoretically most
of the laws are not gender discriminatory, the possibility of being accused, or
the type of offence for which you are being accused, does not depend on your
gender. However, there are a few gendered laws, for example only women can be
convicted for prostitution, and only men can be convicted of rape. However, there
are also some opinions that women are treated more harshly than men in the criminal
justice system especially in the rape trials. It is debated that in rape trials
men are treated favorably, because first of all, women have to demonstrate
their morality as an evidence, and men become unable to restrain their sexual desires
if one women give them the smallest suggestion that she is available for sex.

 Deviance is
defined as an act, conduct or manifestation which violates the written and unwritten
norms of society or of a social and particular group. Crime is defined as a
behavior or an act which violates written criminal law. Society considers most
of the crimes as deviant but some crimes are not deviant at all. Moreover not
all deviant acts are criminal, for example a person that hears voices that are
not there is deviant but not criminal. The crimes are punished by the criminal
justice system but the deviant behavior is being punished not also by law but
also by society.  Feminist criminologists
sustain double deviance theory, which states that female offenders are punished
not only for the committed crime but also for deviating from the gender
expectation. Regarding this theory it is underlined the fact that female
offenders are labeled as mad or evil. There are some women sentenced harshly
than men and considered evil and manipulative, for example single women, women
who commit violent crimes and women who commit crimes against children. Maxine
Carr’s case is a good example of double deviance, because she was harshly
judged by the society, unlike Kevin Huntley, the man who helped to commit the
crimes. First of all she was judged because she was a woman, and women are not
supposed to commit crimes. After her trial she was banished by the public, and
finally she had to change her identity because her life was threatened.  

              The
statistics show that women in Great Britain have the lowest rate of employment
in the criminal justice system, for example from all the professional judges in
England and Wales, only 30% are women. It can be said that women in UK live in
a patriarchal criminal justice system, where gender plays an essential role in
the criminal justice practice. Our society has a patriarchal nature and the
patriarchal values serve masculine needs. It is important to understand the
importance of the gender differences. Women are sometimes treated as being
invisible in the criminal justice system, and this invisibility can be
considered as a form of oppression. It is also important to make the
distinction between the sex differences and gender differences. Sex difference
are determined  biological, but gender
differences are established by the society and are imposed as social roles. The
eradication of the discriminatory and oppressive treatment that women have
tolerated in the past, can be accomplished by continuing the equalization
between men and women, proposing equal rights amendments and opposing to any
legislation that may suggest different treatment between men and women.
However, women are not the same as men and women have special needs. This means
that there will always be a different treatment between men and women, as long
as this treatment does not place women in a negative position. Difference
between gender should not be ignored, first of all the differences should be
accepted and second should be overcome, this way the future generations can
benefit from a justice system in which female offenders are better reintegrated
into the community .