Execution of Georgia Woman Postponed Due to Drug Issue

The execution of death row inmate Kelly Renee Gissendaner in Georgia has reportedly been postponed because of an issue with the lethal injection drug.

See:

http://www.aol.com/article/2015/03/02/execution-of-georgia-woman-postponed-problem-with-drug/21148709/?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmaing11%7Cdl1%7Csec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D621631

The article goes on to talk about medication-related issues that are not novel in the world of lethal injections and have been the subject of several botched executions.

One wonders how many more challenges will be have to be heard re “botched executions” rising to the level of cruel and unusual punishment in an “enlightened society” in which legal action tends to lag public opinion by decades.

One statistic caught my eye. I’m well aware of disparities – and significant ones indeed – in terms of how justice is meted out with women who break the law v. men who break the law. In the world of capital punishment, executions are no exception:

Gissendaner would have been only the 16th woman put to death nationwide since the Supreme Court allowed the death penalty to resume in 1976. About 1,400 men have been executed since then, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Statistically speaking, this means that approximately 98.9% of all executions are men. Not to mention other discrepancies including racial disparities.

But I wonder, can it be that men are so much more inherently evil as to warrant the death penalty than women? Is it a biological thing? A social thing? A socio-political thing? A religious thing? What then?

Here are some additional stats:

Part of this has to do with the realities of crime in the United States. Men account for a little less than half of the population but are arrested far more often than women; 6.6 million men were arrested at least once in 2013, compared with 2.4 million women that year, according to the FBI’s annual report on crime in the country.

Women account for about 7 percent of the state or federal prison population, a number that has remained relatively static over the last decade, Justice Department figures show. This also plays out on death row: Just 2 percent of the 2,900 people sitting on death row at the end of 2013 were female, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found.

The last inmate put to death in the United States was Lisa Coleman, who was executed by Texas in September. Coleman was just the 15th woman put to death since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, which means women made up about 1 percent of the 1,402 executions that have occurred over that period.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2015/03/02/georgia-prepares-to-carry-out-first-execution-of-a-woman-since-wwii/

Statistics do not, however, reveal answers.

Men are sentenced to longer prison terms. Being female seems to be a protective factor:

If you’re a convicted criminal, the best thing you can have going for you might be your gender.

A new study by Sonja Starr, an assistant law professor at the University of Michigan, found that men are given much higher sentences than women convicted of the same crimes in federal court.

The study found that men receive sentences that are 63 percent higher, on average, than their female counterparts.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/11/men-women-prison-sentence-length-gender-gap_n_1874742.html

One suggestion was that “judges treat women more leniently for practical reasons, such as their greater caretaking responsibility.”

Some interesting views are discussed in Women and Crime:

http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/women_crime.htm

An informative treatise is the Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report: Women Offenders:

http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/wo.pdf

Gender discrimination seems to favor women and harms men:

http://www.avoiceformen.com/misandry/gender-disparity-in-criminal-court/

Is it a matter of a public relations nightmare for prosecutors?

To put it simply, putting a woman on trial can be a public relations nightmare for a prosecutor, who is faced with a defendant who may damsel for both jury and public sympathy, painting herself as a victim of prosecutorial bullying. Not only can prosecuting a vulnerable seeming woman backfire by leading to acquittal due to sympathy, it can also come back to haunt the prosecutor during an election.

I’ll leave you with another report:

Women in the Criminal Justice System: An Overview by The Sentencing Project Research and Advocacy for Reform

http://www.sentencingproject.org/doc/publications/womenincj_total.pdf

But still not much of a satisfactory answer as to why more men are executed than women.

Some background on the women who were executed and more stats re females and death sentences are available in the Death Penalty Information Center:

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

Can it be that it boils down to “stunningly bad PR?” See:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/aug/21/teresa-lewis-death-row

And as sensible as this sounds:

If you agree with the death penalty, you must also agree that the ultimate punishment should be meted out fairly.

The reality is that it isn’t:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/aug/21/teresa-lewis-death-row

Perhaps the most elegant and simplest explanation is that America prefers to execute men:

http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/america_prefers_to_execute_men_apparently_20100822

Now let’s wait and see when we get the first male to female transsexual facing capital punishment requesting gender reassignment therapy and sex assignment surgery.

Roy

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