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Differential punishment of similar behaviour : sentencing assault cases in a specialized family violence court and ‘regular sentencing’ courts Ronald Kramer

By: Kramer, Ronald.
Material type: materialTypeLabelArticleSeries: British Journal of Criminology.Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2016Subject(s): New Zealand District Court | ASSAULT | COURTS | DOMESTIC VIOLENCE | FAMILY VIOLENCE COURT | INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE | OFFENDERS | SENTENCING | NEW ZEALANDOnline resources: Read abstract In: British Journal of Criminology, 2016, 56(4): 689-708Summary: Based on fieldwork conducted in a large, urban district court, this article explores legal responses to domestic and non-domestic assaults. It finds that men who assault intimate partners receive sentences that emphasize their rehabilitative needs and often result in discharges without conviction. Conversely, non-domestic assaults are met with relative severity. These findings are not necessarily inconsistent with a ‘focal concerns’ framework, which suggests that judges rely on racial stereotypes and focus on ‘family costs’ when sentencing violent male partners. They do, however, add nuance to this theoretical frame by suggesting that sentencing processes are likely to be informed by cultural logics that are consistent with a wider array of social power asymmetries, such as those based on gender. A comparison of the narratives that accompany assault cases suggests that men, regardless of racial status, are likely to receive a ‘punishment benefit’ for assaulting an intimate partner. (Author's abstract). "Drawing from 16 months of unobtrusive observations conducted in one of New Zealand’s major district courts—which contains a family violence and regular courts—this article engages the problem of sentencing disparities by analyzing how legal professionals process domestic and non-domestic assault cases." (From the introduction). Record #5584
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British Journal of Criminology, 2016, 56(4): 689-708

Based on fieldwork conducted in a large, urban district court, this article explores legal responses to domestic and non-domestic assaults. It finds that men who assault intimate partners receive sentences that emphasize their rehabilitative needs and often result in discharges without conviction. Conversely, non-domestic assaults are met with relative severity. These findings are not necessarily inconsistent with a ‘focal concerns’ framework, which suggests that judges rely on racial stereotypes and focus on ‘family costs’ when sentencing violent male partners. They do, however, add nuance to this theoretical frame by suggesting that sentencing processes are likely to be informed by cultural logics that are consistent with a wider array of social power asymmetries, such as those based on gender. A comparison of the narratives that accompany assault cases suggests that men, regardless of racial status, are likely to receive a ‘punishment benefit’ for assaulting an intimate partner. (Author's abstract). "Drawing from 16 months of unobtrusive observations conducted in one of New Zealand’s major district courts—which contains a family violence and regular courts—this article engages the problem of sentencing disparities by analyzing how legal professionals process domestic and non-domestic assault cases." (From the introduction). Record #5584