Women on Death Row

Quick Facts
  • As of January 1, 2010, there were 61 women on death row. These women comprise 1.87% of the total death row population.
  • In the past 100 years, over 40 women have been executed in the United States, including 12 since 1976.
  • The most recent execution of a female offender was that of Teresa Lewis in Virginia on September 23, 2010. Five years earlier, Frances Newton was executed in Texas on September 14, 2005.
Source: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/women-and-death-penalty#facts

  • There are only 569 documented instances of female executions in the 378 years spanning from 1632 through late-2010.
  • Beginning with the earliest American colonial period, executions of female offenders constitute about 2.8% of all American executions.
  • Since 1973, 167 death sentences have been imposed upon female offenders, which constitute 2% of all death sentences.

Source: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/women-and-death-penalty

Women in the Death Row Population
  • Women account for about 1 in 10 (10%) of murder arrests annually;
  • Women account for only 2.0% (167 out of 8,292) death sentences imposed at the trial level;
  • Women account for only 1.7%  (55 out of 3,261) ) of persons presently on death row; and
  • Women account for only 1.0% (12 out of 1,232) of persons actually executed in this modern era

Source: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/news/past/31/2010

Commonalities among Female Capital Offenders
  • Women who are in prison are more likely than men to have killed family members or intimates.
  • One quarter of the women on death row as of December 31, 2005 killed their husbands or boyfriends; and nearly another quarter killed their children. Two additional women killed both their husbands and children.
  • At least half of the women sentenced to death said they had been victims of childhood abuse, partner abuse, or both.
  • Many death sentenced women were addicted to drugs or alcohol or suffered from mental illness.


"The Forgotten Population: A Look at Death Row in the United States through the Experiences of Women" Prepared by the American Civil Liberties Union. Available online at http://deathpenalty.org/pdf_files/womenondeathrow.Dec.2004.pdf

"Death Penalty for Female Offenders, January 1, 1973, through October 31, 2010" by Victor L. Streib. Available online at http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/documents/femaledeathrow.pdf


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