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Just or unjust? Problematising the gendered nature of criminal justice

By Samantha Jeffries


In 1950, Otto Pollak claimed in his book the criminality of women, that female offenders were preferentially treated in a criminal justice system dominated by men and thus characterised by male notions of chivalry. Pollak presumed that offending women were placed on pedestals, treated gallantly and protected from punishment, with the result that their criminal activity was less likely to be detected, reported, prosecuted, or sentenced harshly. \ud \ud Since Pollak, the question of gender difference in judicial processing has undergone extensive international scrutiny. After more than five decades of research, discussion and debate, what can we now say about Pollak’s claim. Do women, in comparison to men, receive different judicial outcomes and, if so, is this ‘fair’, ‘just’ or ‘legitimate’? To answer these questions, this paper begins by briefly summarising both international and national research that has considered the issue of gender difference in criminal court outcomes, particularly sentencing and remand. The ramifications of these research findings are then considered with reference to ongoing feminist debates surrounding issues of gender equality, equity and difference

Topics: 180000 LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES, Women, gender, sentencing, remand
Publisher: Otago University Press
Year: 2002
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