Since 1973, 152 death sentences have been handed down to female offenders. During the same time-period, over 7,500 men have been given the death sentence. Women on death row account for approximately 2 % of the population awaiting execution.
Not only is a woman less likely than a man to be given the death sentence, but also she is less likely to be actually executed. While 1 in 10 people arrested for murder is a female, only 1 in 97 people actually executed is a female.
Since the early 1600’s, less than 600 actual cases of the execution of a female have been documented. Eleven women have been executed since 1976, mostly between 1998 and 2001.
Currently, approximately 48 women are on death row at the state level. Several sentences are under review, and therefore, the number could be slightly higher. Half of the women awaiting execution are in California or Texas. California accounts for slightly under one third of these women, Texas accounts for slightly under one fourth, and sixteen other states account for the rest.
California, Texas, North Carolina, and Florida have convicted and given the death sentence to more women than any other state. Only twenty-five states have given the death sentence to a female offender since 1973.
Over the years, more Caucasian women have been given the death sentence for their punishment than a woman of any other race. At least two thirds of the women who have been placed on death row are Caucasian. African American women comprise the next largest group of women on death row, followed by Latin American women, and then Native American women.
A wide disparity in ages exists in the female death row population, ranging from the mid twenties to the early seventies. Some women have been on death row for only a few months, while others have been on death row for several years, even as long as nineteen years.
A woman is more likely to kill her spouse, boyfriend, or children. Over 55% of the cases of women who are currently on death row involve the killing of a family member or members.
In brief, women are less likely to commit murder than men, and also less likely to be executed for the crime.