Women on Death Row Are a Rarity
By John Gramlich, Staff Writer
With Virginia's execution of a woman on Thursday night (September 23), it is worth noting that women also are disproportionately represented on death row. Although in the case of women, the number sentenced to die is far less than their numbers in the population. Nationwide, just 61 of the 3,261 people awaiting execution as of January 1, 2010 were women, according to the Death Penalty Information Center . That's less than 2 percent.
Virginia's execution of Teresa Lewis, who was convicted of killing her husband and stepson in 2002, was the first of a woman in the commonwealth in nearly 100 years, The Washington Post reported . Nationally, Lewis's death was the first execution of a woman since Texas put Frances Newton to death in 2005, and it was only the 12th execution of a female since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976.
The execution attracted intense local, national and international attention. The European Union asked Governor Bob McDonnell to commute Lewis's sentence to life in prison, and more than 5,500 people signed an electronic petition asking him to spare her, the Post reported.