Friday, January 16, 2009

Justice is blind....

It should be, it really should be.

Sadly these days the way you are treaded in court has a lot to do with your gender. A good example are these very similar cases. Two 17 year old teenagers in Wisconsin were arrested at almost the same time (1 day difference), were both arrested for having sex with a 14-year old and both cases were filed by the same attorney. A lot of similarities. The only difference the male offender is charged with a felony while the female offender is charged with a misdemeanor. A closer look:

17-year-old Alan J. Jepsen was charged Wednesday with felony sexual assault of a child under 16. Jepson was taken into custody at his home after the girl's mother reported her as a runaway, telling police her daughter was most likely at Jepsen's house.

The girl, who is Jepsen's girlfriend was indeed at the boy's home. He admitted to investigators that he and his girlfriend had sex two or three times over a three month period, according to the arrest report.

The girl had told Jepsen that she was 16. The girl ALSO TOLD POLICE she was 16 initially. The arrest report went on to state that Jepsen was required to be charges as an adult under Wisconsin law. He now faces 25 years in prison for the sexual assault of a child under 16.


17-year-old Norma J. Guthrie was charged Thursday with misdemeanor sexual assault for allegedly having sex with a 14-year-old male. Guthrie admitted to having sex with a 14-year-old boy between 10 and 15 times, according to the arrest report.

Police became aware of the allegations when the boy's mother reported that her son might be staying overnight at the girl's home. Guthrie told investigators that the boy claimed to be 16.

She now faces up to nine months in jail, if convicted. - From theweeklyvice

A difference of more than 24 years simply for being male? But it gets worse. After the attorney is confronted with those two cases he shows us a good portion of hypocrisy:

[..] DA Jim Haasch stated that the charges were different because Guthrie had no prior record. He was seemingly unaware of Guthrie's pending charge of battery, according to court online records.

Haasch then stated that the charges are different because the 14-year-old in the Guthrie case "Is almost 15 years old" and has a birthday coming in February! - From theweeklyvice

Yes that does make sense. Almost 15 is in almost all cases almost close to almost 16. I can only shake my head in disbelief.

And this case wasn´t the exception. Here is another example:

A male teacher who had sex with three teenage female students was sentenced to 26 years in prison while the next day, a female swimming coach who had an “affair” with an 11-year-old boy and sexual “encounters” with two others got 30 days - From AM

Especially when it comes to sexual offences females are rarely receiving more than a pat on the wrist. Those cases aren´t even that rare and the weeklyvice has a nice collection of offending teachers (gender neutral, but count the cases and compare the gender / This is interesting as well). This case is truly outstanding:

A judge caused outrage yesterday after he refused to jail a woman who had sex with a 14-year-old boy and instead told her: ‘He seduced you.’
Sharon Edwards, 40, bombarded the boy with as many as 50 text messages and emails a day, offered to buy him cocaine and regularly lured him into her bed.
Yet she walked free from court yesterday after Judge Peter Fox QC said the married housewife was an unhappy woman who was unable to resist the advances of a child.
- From the dailymail

This double standards do not only apply when it comes to sexual crimes. Remeber the Mary Winkler case? She claimed that he had mistreated her. As proof, she showed the jury a pair of platform shoes and black wig that Matthew had asked her to wear during sex. A reason to murder her husband? Shooting him in the back with a shotgun while he was asleep? She received a seven-month sentence. Or this one:

When Etta Ann Urdiales was murdered in Colorado, two completely different juries convicted two different people of the crime. Both juries believed there was only one murderer. One convicted Bobbie Hogan, a woman. The other convicted Jess Jacobs, a man. She got 10 years in prison. He was put to death. - From AM

There are also studies on that double standards:

In 1988 the justice system in the Nation's 75 largest counties disposed of an estimated 540 spouse murder cases. Husbands charged with killing their wife outnumbered wives charged with killing their husband. Of the 540, 318--or 59%--were husband defendants and 222--or 41%--were wife defendants.

On average, convicted wives received prison sentences that were about 10 years shorter than what husbands received. Excluding life or death sentences, the average prison sentence for killing a spouse was 6 years for wives but 16.5 years for husbands.

Among wives sentenced to prison, 15% received a sentence of 20 years or more (including life imprisonment and the death penalty); among husbands, it was 43%.

No explanation for why State prison sentences were, on average, 10 years shorter for wife defendants than husband defendants

Wives received shorter prison sentences than husbands (a 10-year difference, on average) even when the comparison is restricted to defendants who were alike in terms of whether or not they were provoked

The average prison sentence for unprovoked wife defendants was 7 years, or 10 years shorter than the average 17 years for unprovoked husband defendants. - From AM
And apparently it applies to other crimes as well:
According to Pradeep Ramanathan, vice president of the National Coalition of Free Men (NCFM), a volunteer, non-profit organization that has explored and addressed men's issues since 1976, "All the research clearly demonstrates that gender is the most significant biasing factor in determining whether or not someone will be charged, prosecuted, indicted and sentenced, as well as determining the severity of the sentence."

And Ramanathan is right. Department of Justice figures show that being male increases a murderer's chance of receiving a death sentence by more than 20 times.

And the data repeatedly confirms that men receive higher sentences than women for the exact same crime. One study, published in Justice Quarterly in 1986, examined 181,197 felonies in California and found that, for the same crime, being male increased the chance of incarceration by 165 percent. Being black, in comparison, increased the chance of incarceration by 19 percent.

Another study, published in Crime & Delinquency in 1989, examined non-accomplice crimes and factored together the number of charges, convicted offenses, prior felony convictions, as well as the race, age, work history and family situation of the accused and found that "gender differences, favoring women, are more often found than race differences, favoring whites."

In yet another study, published in the International Journal of the Sociology of Law, researchers Mathew Zingraff and Randall Thomson found that being male increases sentence lengths more than any other discriminatory variable.

The bias applies to victims as well as the accused. When Edward Glaeser of Harvard University and Bruce Sacerdote of Dartmouth College examined 2,800 homicide cases randomly drawn from 33 urban counties by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, they found that killing a female instead of a male increased sentences by 40.6 percent. Killing a white instead of a black, in comparison, increased sentences by 26.8 percent.

Even when the exact same type of crime is accounted for, the disparities still persist. For example, a drunk driver who kills a black male receives an average sentence of two years. A drunk driver who kills a white male, four years. A drunk driver who kills a white female, six years. - From AM
And justice for all...

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