Congratulations, Ladies! The Same Glass Ceiling in the Corporate World Exists for Us in Prison too!

Rich Moran opened his blog on http://www.pewresearch.com on August 5, 2013 by stating:

“Female white-collar crooks face the same glass ceiling as their law-abiding peers in the corporate world: They typically hold inferior positions to men in the criminal conspiracies in which they are engage, rarely lead a fraud ring and make significantly less money for their dirty deeds than their male accomplices.”

Why then are their sentences 3 times more harsh and excessive than similarly situated male offenders?

In a September 16, 2013 report prepared by CultureQuantiX concludes that “On average…Female sentences are three (3) times as long as Male sentences for Federal White Collar Crimes. In this report,  that can be viewed in its entirety by visiting  http://www.womenoverincarcerated.org,the sentences of 29 females convicted of white collar crimes who are currently incarcerated at the Federal Prison Camp Danbury, CT were analyzed against 29 males convicted of similar federal white -collar crimes. In the introduction to the study, it is pointed out that despite the complexity of influencing elements in determining a sentence, “If one group tends to have a much higher deviation (directionally) from the initial range than the other, a bias clearly exists.” 300% greater sentences for women is unquestionably biased.

Again, the question becomes why are the sentences of women in the cases so much higher? Justin Peters offers an explanation in his “A Failure of Feminism: Women are Being Systematically excluded from White-Collar Crime”. He states “The separation between what is feminine and what is criminal is sharp, whereas the dividing lines between what is masculine and what is illegal is often thin. Although male sex role norms do not prescribe crime, risk-taking and defying social convention are qualities more admired in men than women. “While that can be a plausible explanation for the underlying bias in the criminal justice system against women that produces such disparate sentences as reflected in the CultureQuantiX study, what is the fix?

In a recent address before the American Bar Association, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the 20% disparity existent between drug sentences of Black and Latino males and similarly situated white male offenders “shameful”. What are policy makers saying about a 300% sentence disparity between males and similarly situated women in white collar sentencing? Shortly after its release the CultureQuantiX study and a bill proposing the reinstatement of Federal Parole (One Shot Bill) were forwarded to members of Congress, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, as well as President Obama and the First Lady. The study as well as the One Shot Bill can both be viewed on www. womenoverincarcerated.org. Those adversely affected by those harsh sentences are eagerly awaiting not only their response, but their action.  The Fair Sentencing Act was passed to remedy the race disparity in drug cases. Similar legislation should be developed to offset the negative consequences of bad sentencing practice against women white-collar crime offenders. Until that happens, a larger fix for national disparities should be established immediately.

Reinstating Federal Parole would alleviate nationwide disparities for all federal inmates who have been sentenced after the creation of the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Federal Parole was eliminated when this Commission was created with the purpose of avoiding nationwide sentencing disparities. That move was a huge criminal justice policy failure leading to the explosion of the federal prison population. The number of female inmates alone increased 600% between 1980 and 2010!

While the need to decrease the population is evident, the Federal Bureau of Prisons is still continuing bad policy by removing the only minimum/low security female correctional facility in the Northeast. The newest female federal  prison built in Aliceville AL will only accommodate 300 more inmates. There are more compassionate, cost effective ways to handle overpopulation that would also be in line with the mission of the Department of Justice as well as support the current call for prison reform. In addition to reinstating Federal Parole, home confinement and halfway houses can be utilized for those first time, non-violent offenders who have low risk of recidivism. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder seems to agree stating:

“Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no truly good law enforcement reason…Widespread incarceration is both ineffective and unsustainable”

In alleviating the current federal population which is above 140% capacity, let’s start by reducing the harsh sentences of those who are unjustly serving disparate sentences. Fair and just treatment of women in the criminal justice system is urgently needed. Not only does disparate treatment of any group of people do a disservice to society at large, but unfairly sentencing women, more than half of whom are mothers, passes on huge negative consequences to the children. Those long term costs are in a currency that cannot be measured – the futures of those children.

These women, their families, and society at large needs your help to strive for true justice. Please:

1) View our mission at http://www.womenoverincarcerated.org and sign our petition to reinstate Federal Parole. Barring the President from granting blanket pardons to those women affected by sentencing disparity, there is no other road to relief for these women. We believe that reinstatement of parole would also represent the single biggest cost saving measure you could exact to reduce federal spending by simply targeting non-violent drug and white collar offenders.

2) Urge policy makers to convene a hearing or meeting with the Attorney General and the U.S. Attorneys in the Northeast who are primarily responsible for the decisions as to who to prosecute and what to seek for punishment for the overwhelming majority of women who made up the Danbury study. The prosecutors power is unfettered, and heretofore, unchecked. This initial step is where the disparity starts. In Sentencing Guidelines annual manual, policy statement urges the avoidance of unwarranted sentencing disparities even beginning with the plea bargain process. As the study shows this isn’t practiced. Only the prosecutors can explain how and why similarly situated male and female defendants, whether in the same case, same court, same jurisdiction or different jurisdictions, routinely have such drastically different asks and outcomes.

It is time to act on the bills that have sat stale in Congress and reform prison sentencing, including the reinstatement of federal parole.

Your attention to this matter is greatly appreciated, and any resources you are able to provide would be welcomed.

Stacey Petro

Reg # 17986-014

Federal Prison Camp – Danbury

33 1/2 Pembroke Station

Danbury CT 06811

Please also visit: http://www.womenoverincarcerated.org

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About whoistoblame

Mom of two, currently serving the last 12 months of my sentence in a halfway house and wanting to go home to my children.
This entry was posted in accountability, call to action, courts, disparities, human rights, incarceration, injustice, justice, law, legal, moms, mortgage industry\, prison reform, Uncategorized, women's rights and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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