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Probing the Limits of the Female Advantage in Criminal Processing: Pretrial Diversion of Drug Offenders in an Urban County

NCJ Number
Justice System Journal Volume: 21 Issue: 3 Dated: 2000 Pages: 239-259
Date Published
21 pages

This study examined whether gender predicted the disposition of drug cases and the extent to which Anglo females were treated more leniently than their ethnic minority counterparts.


The data analyzed were collected as part of a broader study of the Arizona Demand Reduction Program (DRP) by the Arizona Institute for Criminal Justice under a National Institute of Justice grant. In March 1989 a consortium of municipal, county, State, and Federal law enforcement agencies in Maricopa County, Ariz., initiated the DRP. The initiative allowed for prefile diversion of arrestees into a deferred prosecution treatment program. The current study focused on the extent to which gender, including the intersection of gender and race, dictated the outcome of the prefile diversion review. To measure the effect of gender in the decision to divert offenders, the study constructed a dichotomous dependent variable coded "1" if an offender judged prosecutable was offered diversion and "0" if the offender was not offered diversion. The study generally found that female offenders were treated more leniently than male offenders. Within race/ethnic categories, Anglo and black females were treated more leniently than Anglo and black males, and Latino males and females tended to be treated equally. There was no evidence of more favorable treatment of Anglo over ethnic-minority females. The implications of these findings for the major assumptions regarding male-female disparities in criminal processing are discussed, along with study limitations. 5 tables, 1 figure, and 71 references

Date Published: January 1, 2000