Effects of War and Peace on Punishment Sex Ratios

face of a prisoner

Sex ratios of publicly authorized punishment have varied widely across history. Much evidence indicates that criminal justice systems have deeply entrenched gender animus against men. During wartime, military service has substituted for criminal punishment in disposing of men. Substitution between military service and punishment suggests that public bias toward sacrificing men’s lives isn’t just a response to military emergencies. Sacrificing men in military service and in punishment are alternate outcomes of the same discursive process. Anti-men gender bias in public discourse is pervasive and largely ignored.

Sex ratio in Punishment: War and Peace in Early 19th-Century England & Wales

military situationyear beginyear endexecuted menexecuted womenexecuted men per womantransported mentransported womentransported men per woman
Source: punishment prevalence yearly by sex in England & Wales from 1715. Note: good yearly data on prisoners by sex aren't available for England & Wales before 1836.
pre Napoleonic Wars178817925771832.13,3345945.6
Napoleonic Wars, pt. 1179318018024219.114905882.5
Peace of Amiens1802180289329.55161284.0
Napoleonic Wars, pt. 2180318158844420.13,9631,2123.3
post Napoleonic Wars181618227033023.412,70766319.2

Sex Ratio in Punishment:
War and Peace in 20th-century England & Wales

military situationyear beginyear endmen in prisonwomen in prisonsex ratio in prison
Source: punishment prevalence yearly by sex in England & Wales from 1715.
pre World War I1909191317,5122,5676.8
World War I191519188,2351,8224.5
post World War I191919239,8631,2927.6
pre World War II1932193810,92573214.9
World War II1939194510,7201,1589.3
post WWII1946195218,6531,12416.6

Sex Ratio in Punishment:
War and Peace in 20th-Century U.S.

military situationyear beginyear endexecuted menexecuted womenexecuted men per womanmen in prisonwomen in prisonsex ratio in prison
Source: Punishment prevalence yearly by sex in the U.S. from 1880.
pre World War II193219381,1968149.5243,33311,73220.7
World War II193919459278115.9265,69513,95919.0
post WWII194619527835156.6257,32013,31119.3

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