Should women be sentenced differently from men?
On the 16th October 2012 there was a Westminster Hall debate on sentencing female offenders. The debate was secured by Philip Davies Conservative MP, where he aimed to address 5 commonly held beliefs or “myths” about the sentencing of women:
- women are very likely to be sent to prison and are more likely than men to be given a custodial sentence
- most women are in prison for petty or non-violent offences, and are serving short sentences.
- women are often remanded in custody but then are not sentenced to custody.
- prison separates mothers from their children, which unfairly punishes them.
- women are generally treated more harshly than men in the justice system.
There are two reports mentioned in the debate that appear to represent different statistics: the Ministry of Justice’s Statistics on Women and the Criminal Justice System & the Women Briefing by the Prison Reform Trust.
Let us be clear to distinguish two questions 1. ARE women sentenced differently (and detrimentally) to men? and 2. SHOULD women be sentenced differently?
We suggest debate be focused on the latter, however if anyone can shed light on the statistics that would be most welcome.