Assessing Cumulative Disadvantage against Minority Female Defendants in State Courts

Kelsey L. Kramer, Xia Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Prior sentencing research, especially research on cumulative disadvantage, has mainly focused on the treatment of male defendants. Little attention has been paid to female defendants, particularly minority female defendants. Drawing on the selective chivalry, evil women, and focal concerns perspectives and using data from the 1990–2009 State Court Processing Statistics (SCPS), this paper investigates the impact of race/ethnicity for female defendants across individual and successive stages in the sentencing process. The results indicate that ethnicity does not operate via indirect or direct pathways, and therefore no evidence of cumulative disadvantage against Hispanic female defendants was detected. The results, however, do suggest that race operates through direct and indirect pathways to cause more punitive sentencing outcomes for Black female defendants compared to White female defendants, thus providing evidence of cumulative disadvantage against Black female defendants. Theoretical, research, and policy implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1284-1313
Number of pages30
JournalJustice Quarterly
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 10 2019


  • Gender
  • cumulative disadvantage
  • race/ethnicity
  • sentencing disparity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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