Philobiblon: Criminal justice in the US: an astonishing statistic

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Criminal justice in the US: an astonishing statistic

A fascinating account of how films and TV are in love with the idea of the calculating "Black Widow". But a majority of women who kill their partners are long-term victims of abuse. It seems, however, that the US legal system doesn't take this into account:

Women who are charged with the murder of their partners have the least extensive criminal records of any group of convicted offenders. Yet the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that the average prison sentence of men who kill their female partners ranges from two to six years, while women who kill their partners are sentenced to an average of 15 years. In states ranging from Florida to South Carolina, many are serving life sentences without the possibility of parole.

How are the men getting such lenient sentences? I suspect they're probably using "provocation" defences - such as they believed the woman was having an affair, or was "nagging" him - as has been the the case in the UK.

What sort of hang-over of "women as property" is the former? And as for the latter, well there is a simple - non-criminal - solution: leave!

Finally, at least British law is trying to make this fairer - and perhaps protect more women.


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