The University of Southern California (USC) library system has seemingly begun censoring a 2012 academic article documenting that men, on average, get slapped with a 63 percent longer prison sentence than women for the same crimes.
The article, “Estimating Gender Disparities in Federal Criminal Cases” is widely accessible online to the public. But after a USC lecturer assigned the article in Spring 2018 class, the article somehow is no longer accessible by search in the USC library system.
If you search for the article on the USC library site, you will find a link to a critique of the article — but not the article itself.
PJ Media reached out to USC last Thursday to ask why the article was removed, and requested to be connected to a librarian. The school’s spokesman claimed I couldn’t see the article because I didn’t have a USC student library login. However, I still could not find the article with a login — and neither could USC students I spoke with.
The USC spokesman also suggested that it’s not a big deal that the article is no longer on the USC library site. “FWIW, the article is also widely available via Google search,” wrote the spokesman, Eddie North-Hager. He also never connected me with a campus librarian.
In response to the disappearance of the article, USC PhD student and professor Kursat Christoff Pekgoz published a letter to USC administrators on Sunday titled “Open Letter Against Feminist Censorship.”
“I am writing this letter due to a recent observation,” wrote Pekgoz.
“I assigned Sonja Starr’s study about gender disparities in criminal sentencing to my [Spring 2018] class … the study was available through the University’s online library at that time … since I assigned it as mandatory reading to my students,” wrote Pekgoz.
“I was shocked to find that Sonja Starr’s 2012 study has mysteriously disappeared,” he added. “Feminist censorship is nothing new: the Victorian morality underlying the ideology necessitates it, so to speak.”
“I find this censorship shocking — it is the digital equivalent of book burning, to say the least. I hope the University of Southern California restores Professor Starr’s paper to the digital index so that students can continue reviewing it,” wrote Pekgoz.
As of press time, the article is still not accessible via the USC library site.
The study in question, “Estimating Gender Disparities in Federal Criminal Cases,” was the first major academic article to find that men face harsher prison sentences than do women.One possible reason for this disparity is the “girlfriend theory.”
“Prosecutors and judges may consider such women less dangerous, less morally culpable, or useful sources of testimony,” she writes. “While leniency may be appropriate in such cases … such perceptions are not always justified by the facts,” Starr adds.
The sentencing disparity helps explain why men are 93 percent of federal prison inmates, though of course, it goes without saying that men are also more likely to be found guilty for drug offenses (which account for 46% of federal inmates) and violent crimes such as rape or arson.
Reached by PJ Media, Professor Starr (who teaches at the University of Michigan) suggested her article may not have been censored, but rather, that USC stopped paying for access to the particular article. However, USC officials did not give that as a response when I asked about censorship of the article, and have yet to provide any further explanation.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen