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4 Crime and Justice: An Annual Review of Research 91 (1983)


The relation between gender and criminality is strong, and is likely to remain so. Women have traditionally been much less likely than men to commit violent crimes, and that pattern persists today. Rates of female involvement in some forms of property crime-notably petty theft and fraud-appear to be increasing. However, while the relative increase in women's property crime involvement is significant, female participation even in these crimes remains far less than that of men.

The relation of gender to case processing decisions in the criminal justice system varies from stage to stage. Although the pertinent literature is plagued by methodological and interpretive problems, several tentative conclusions can be offered. Women are more likely than men, other things equal, to be released on recognizance; however, when bail is set, the amount of bail does not appear to be affected by the defendant's gender. There is no clear evidence that the defendant's gender systematically affects prosecution, plea negotiation, or conviction decisions. In sentencing, however, women appear to receive systematic leniency except when they are convicted of high-severity offenses.