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Go to jail. Go directly to jail. And if you are a woman, stay there a lot longer.

Friday, October 18, 2013
posted by Douglas Keene

women in prisonHow much longer? 300% longer if you are a White woman and 450% longer if you are a Black woman. Seriously. Wow. A new report has been released comparing the federal white-collar crime sentences of men and women. The report was released by a group of female federal prison inmates and prepared in conjunction with a well-known research firm. What the report has to say is shocking. Here’s a comment from the press release we were sent to announce the report:

“If US Attorney Holder believes that the 20% sentencing disparity between black and Latino males and similarly situated white male offenders is “shameful”, as he stated in his recent address to the ABA announcing major changes in federal drug policy, then the 300% disparity between white males and similarly situated women (for black women the number is 450%) ought to prompt a revolution.”          

a quote from Dianne Wilkerson, an African-American female and former state senator from Massachusetts serving a 42-month sentence for extortion/bribery as a public official.

The report itself compares the sentences of 29 female and 31 male inmates (all of whom are currently incarcerated). The women inmates are all serving sentences at Danbury Federal Prison Camp for Women. The male inmates were selected from court records “limited primarily to the same states or regions from which the women came”. The report goes into extensive detail comparing the sentencing of men and women, African-American and Caucasian, by type of (white-collar) crime.

And here is just a little of what they report:

Female sentences are 3x as long as male sentences for federal white-collar crimes with similar losses.

Females who are African-American are sentenced to 4.5x as long as the sentences for males.

Female’s sentences average 155% of the recommended guidelines while males are only 52% of that guideline recommendation.

The text of the report goes to some length to express awareness that this is a small sample. However, they say, if this is indicative of the sentencing disparities between men and women convicted of federal white-collar crimes, there is a real problem here. We would agree. Recently, we wrote up a study on corporate fraud in the U.S. and looked at the roles of women and men in white-collar crime. The findings of that study make us especially concerned as to whether this small-scale report really does mirror the overall dynamic of the sentencing practices by race and gender for federal white-collar crime.

We look forward to the results of the national study now being completed by CultureQuantiX and examining sentences by gender and race. If the experience of the women incarcerated at the Danbury Federal Prison Camp for Women are consistent with those of women, in general, who have been sentenced for white-collar crime– a thorough policy revision needs to be undertaken..

A comparison of white-collar crime sentence lengths between males and females. and a group of female federal white-collar crime prison inmates. 2013. Find the complete report here.


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