Death penalty for female offenders


TABLE 1 DEATH SENTENCES IMPOSED UPON FEMALE OFFENDERS



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TABLE 1

DEATH SENTENCES IMPOSED UPON FEMALE OFFENDERS,

JANUARY 1, 1973, THROUGH JUNE 30, 2009



Year

Total Death

Sentences

Death Sentences

For Females

Portion

of Total

1973

42

1

2.4%

1974

149

1

0.7%

1975

298

8

2.3%

1976

233

3

1.3%

1977

137

1

0.7%

1978

185

4

2.1%

1979

151

4

2.6%

1980

173

2

1.1%

1981

223

3

1.3%

1982

267

5

1.8%

1983

252

4

1.6%

1984

284

8

2.8%

1985

262

5

1.9%

1986

300

3

1.0%

1987

287

5

1.7%

1988

291

5

1.7%

1989

258

11

4.2%

1990

251

6

2.4%

1991

268

7

2.6%

1992

287

10

3.5%

1993

287

6

2.0%

1994

315

5

1.6%

1995

326

7

2.1%

1996

323

2

0.6%

1997

281

2

0.7%

1998

306

7

2.3%

1999

284

4

1.4%

2000

235

8

3.4%

2001

167

2

1.2%

2002

169

5

3.0%

2003

153

2

1.3%

2004

140

5

3.6%

2005

138

5

3.6%

2006

115

5

4.3%

2007

115

1

0.9 %

2008

111

3

2.7%

2009 *

55 **

0

0%

Totals:

8,118**

165

2.0%

* as of 6-30-2009 ** estimates





  1. The wide fluctuations in annual death sentencing rates are unexplained by changes in statutes, court rulings, or public opinion.



  1. These 165 death sentences for female offenders since 1973 have been imposed by twenty-five individual states and by the federal government, comprising about two-thirds of the thirty-nine death penalty jurisdictions during this time period. Table 2 below provides these data by jurisdiction and race of offender.


TABLE 2

STATE-BY-STATE BREAKDOWN OF DEATH SENTENCES FOR

FEMALE OFFENDERS, JANUARY 1, 1973, THROUGH JUNE 30, 2009


Total Death

State: Sentences

White

Offenders

Black

Offenders

Latina

Offenders

Amer. Indian

Offenders

Texas: 19

11

7

1

0

California: 18

9

3

6

0

Florida: 17

13

3

1

0

North Carolina: 16

10

4

0

2

Ohio: 12

6

6

0

0

Alabama: 10

7

3

0

0

Mississippi: 9

7

2

0

0

Oklahoma: 8

7

1

0

0

Illinois: 7

1

4

2

0

Pennsylvania: 7

3

4

0

0

Georgia: 6

5

1

0

0

Missouri: 5

4

0

1

0

Indiana: 4

2

2

0

0

Arizona: 3

3

0

0

0

Federal: 2

2

0

0

0

Kentucky: 3

3

0

0

0

Louisiana: 3

2

1

0

0

Maryland: 3

1

0

0

2

New Jersey: 3

3

0

0

0

Arkansas: 2

2

0

0

0

Idaho: 2

2

0

0

0

Nevada: 2

1

1

0

0

Tennessee: 2

2

0

0

0

Delaware: 1

1

0

0

0

South Carolina: 1

1

0

0

0

Virginia: 1

1

0

0

0

Totals: 165

108

42

11


(6) The top five states (Texas, California, Florida, North Carolina and Ohio) account for almost half (82/165) of all such sentences since 1973.


(7) Virginia, a leading death penalty state for male offenders, has imposed only one death sentence on a female offender since 1973. Virginia last executed a female offender in 1912.


  1. Appendix A to this report provides a detailed listing of name, race, jurisdiction, dates of crimes and sentences, and current status for each female death sentence.


EXECUTIONS OF FEMALE OFFENDERS


  1. Actual execution of female offenders is quite rare, with only 568 documented instances in the 376 years from 1632 through mid-2009.




  1. Beginning with the earliest American colonial period, executions of female offenders constitute about 2.8% (568 / 20,000) of all American executions.




  1. From 1900 through mid-2009, 0.6% (50 / 8,493) of all executions have been of female offenders. Table 3 below provides these data by year and by executing jurisdiction.




  1. Comparing these post-1900 data with data from previous American eras reveals that this practice is even rarer now than in previous centuries.


TABLE 3

EXECUTIONS OF FEMALE OFFENDERS BY STATE,

JANUARY 1, 1900, THROUGH JUNE 30, 2009


State of

Execution

Date of

Execution


Name of Offender

Race of

Offender

Age at Crime

of Offender

Alabama

01-24-1930

Gilmore, Selena

Black

[adult]




09-04-1953

Dennison, Earle

White

54




10-11-1957

Martin, Rhonda Belle

White

48




05-10-2002

Block, Linda Lyon

White

45

Arizona

02-21-1930

Dugan, Eva

White

49

Arkansas

05-02-2000

Riggs, Christina Marie

White

26

California

11-21-1941

Spinelli,Eithel Leta Juanita

White

52




04-11-1947

Peete, Louise

White

58




06-03-1955

Graham, Barbara

White

32




08-08-1962

Duncan, Elizabeth Ann

White

58

Delaware

06-07-1935

Carey, May H.

White

52

Federal (NY)

06-19-1953

Rosenberg, Ethel1

White

37

Federal (MO)

12-18-1953

Heady, Bonnie Brown

White

41




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