Community Sentencing Magistrates

Good Essays
The project explores different factors influencing the sentencing of women in England and Wales.
The author is writing for judges, policy-makers, and the general public so they understand community sentencing of non-violent women offenders.
The overall argument suggests that magistrates know very little about female offending, therefore practical improvements and training should be provided (Birkett., 2015).
Specific arguments:
1. Sentencing choices
2. No legal training
3. Magistrates’ knowledge on community sentencing is inadequate

1. Sentencing choices
• Results showed most magistrates felt they were gender blind, and decisions about sentencing should not differ based on gender (Birkett., 2015).
• Some magistrates felt harsher punishments should be enforced and the ‘she should know better’ perception emphasised when receiving such
…show more content…
2002, p.4). Focus groups are particularly interesting to see how magistrates interpret the sentences given to women, helping the researcher to understand why participants feel they require training. This type of method allowed participants to challenge the different views individuals had (Bryman. 2008). Focus groups encourages the theory of ‘symbolic interactionism’ as researchers can see how the magistrates collaboratively make sense of female offending (Bryman. 2008, p.476).
Although focus groups provide qualitative data, this is hard to analyse and quite time consuming particularly when recording and focusing on who is saying what (Bryman. 2008, p.488). Also, focus groups are rather difficult when organising - the process of encouraging magistrates to attend and the limited control over magistrates, as the chairman only provided certain details. While some may be very engaged when speaking (Bryman. 2008), others may not wish to engage, such as the magistrates, who felt uncomfortable about engaging (Birkett.

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