Gender and Sentencing: An Examination of Florida's Truth in Sentencing Policy

Rhonda Dobbs, Florida State University
Ted Chiricos, Florida State University

Women comprise the fastest growing population of those being sentenced to prison. Many criminologists contend that increases in the population of incarcerated women are due, not to changes in criminal involvement, but to changes in criminal justice policies. They contend, for example, that the leniency or chivalry once afforded women in sentencing is no longer as prevalent as it once was. In particular, it is argued that the move away from indeterminate sentencing towards more determinate models has served to equalize the punishment of men and women, thereby leading to more pronounced increases in incarceration for women compared to men. The present study examines the impact of the statewide "truth in sentencing" legislation enacted in Florida in 1995 on the likelihood of incarceration, sentence length, as well as time served for both male and female offenders. The analysis for both groups will include an examination of the impact of race, offense type, prior record, and various county-level contextual characteristics, such as racial composition and crime rates, on sentencing outcomes.

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Updated 05/20/2006