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Impact of Prison Crowding on Male and Female Imprisonment Rates in Minnesota: A Research Note

NCJ Number
Justice Quarterly Volume: 14 Issue: 4 Dated: (December 1997) Pages: 793-809
Date Published
17 pages

This study examines the relationship between gender and criminal sentencing.


The study uses longitudinal data from the State of Minnesota, employing regression time-series analysis to test whether gender-specific levels of prison crowding interact with mitigated departures from Minnesota's sentencing guidelines in mediating the relationship between gender and rate of imprisonment. Results suggest that legally mandated sentencing factors are important in determining severity of sanction for both males and females, but that male offenders are more likely to receive mitigated departures when crowding levels are high in male prisons. This relationship exists even though the women's prison in Minnesota is actually more overcrowded than the male prison. The finding of significant interaction in the male but not the female imprisonment equation differs markedly from the results of previous determinate research and casts doubt on the frequent assertion that female defendants are treated more leniently in criminal sentencing than similarly situated male defendants. These findings also highlight the complexity and difficulty of isolating the effect of gender on criminal sentencing. Notes, tables, figures, references

Date Published: January 1, 1997