How Cultural Tolerance for Men's Violence Against Women Influences the Sentencing of Assault Cases in Specialized Family Violence Courts

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:15
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Ronald KRAMER, University of Auckland, New Zealand
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.