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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 162444 Find in a Library
Title: Dead Woman Walking
Journal: ABA Journal  Volume:82  Dated:(April 1996)  Pages:24
Author(s): M Hansen
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 1
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Based largely on research by Victor Streib and an examination of the case of Guinevere Garcia, this article considers whether or not there is gender discrimination in the imposition and execution of the death penalty in the United States.
Abstract: Garcia was convicted of the shooting death of her estranged husband while reportedly attempting to rob him in 1991. Hours before her scheduled execution, however, her life was spared by Illinois Governor Jim Edgar, who commuted her sentence to life in prison. In issuing the commutation, the Governor said that her crime was no worse than others that have resulted in lesser sentences. He claimed his decision was unrelated to gender. Garcia's case, however, in some ways is typical of the crimes that have put other convicted murderers on death row; she killed her husband during the commission of another felony, which is one of the more common ways of qualifying for the death penalty; and Garcia, unlike most women who kill, had killed before. Four months before she shot her husband, she had been released from prison after serving a 10-year sentence for suffocating her daughter in 1977. Garcia's case raises the issue of sexism in capital punishment, according to Victor Streib, who studies the issue of women and capital punishment. Streib documents other cases that can only be explained by the fact that the accused was a woman. In the public's perception, women who kill generally are believed to be operating under extreme emotional distress or the domination of another person. Also, women who kill usually know their victim, which for some reason is considered a less heinous crime than the murder of a stranger, according to Streib. Streib's research shows that women are rarely given the death sentence, and even when they are, they are rarely executed.
Main Term(s): Court procedures
Index Term(s): Capital punishment; Corrections policies; Female murderers; Gender issues; Sex discrimination
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