Women on Death Row Are Still Rare

The number of women on death row continues to be far less than men

by Liz Olson
Women on Death Row

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Both the death sentencing rate and the death row population remain much smaller for women in comparison to men. Only 2% of death sentences in the United States are given to female offenders, according to the February 2008 report, “Death Penalty for Female Offenders,” by Victor Streib.

In addition, the actual execution of convicted females is rare. As of December 31, 2007, only 568 female executions have been documented since 1632, which constitutes 2.8% of the total known executions in the United States since 1608. Since 1973, 162 women have been sentenced to death, and only 11 have been executed after the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. That is less than 1% of the 1,099 executions since 1976. The last female executed was in Texas in 2005. Currently, there are 51 women on death row, which comprises 1.5% of the 3,350 persons.

Characteristics of Women on Death Row

Current Age Nr. Per. Race Nr. Per.
20-29 6 12% Black 14 27%
30-39 17 33 Latina 5 10
40-49 17 33 Native America 1 2
50-59 9 18 White 31 61
60-69 1 2
70-29 6 12%
Total 51 100 Total 51 100
Note: as of Dec.31, 2007

The 11 women that have been executed since 1976

Date of Execution Name Race State Execution Method Race of Victim(s) Realtionship of Victim(s)
1. 11/2/1984 Velma Barfield W NC Lethal injection 1/W boyfriend
2. 2/3/1998 Karla Faye Tucker W TX Lethal injection 1/W stranger
3. 3/30/1998 Judy Buenoano W FL Electrocution 1/W husband
4. 2/24/2000 Betty Lou Beets W TX Lethal injection 1/W husband
5. 5/2/2000 Christina Riggs W AR Lethal injection 2/W children
6. 1/11/2001 Wanda Jean Allen B OK Lethal injection 1/B significant other
7. 5/1/01 Marilyn Plantz W OK Lethal injection 1/W husband
8. 12/4/01 Lois Nadean Smith W OK Lethal injection 1/W son's ex-girlfriend
9. 5/10/02 Lynda Lyon Block W AL Electrocution 1/W stranger (police officer)
10. 10/9/02 Aileen Wuornos W FL Lethal injection 1/W stranger
11. 9/15/05 Frances Newton B TX Lethal injection 3/B children and husband
Note: as of Dec.31, 2007
Source: Death Penalty Information Center (www.deathpenaltyinfo.org)

Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

Did you know?
William O. Douglas served the longest term (36 years and 209 days) on the Supreme Court.

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