Murder Earns Few Women Death Penalty

Will slaughter of 6 family members draw capital punishment for Wash. woman?
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2007 9:33 PM CST
Women commit about 10 percent of the killings in the United States, but only 5 percent of the multiple slayings, the Seattle Times reports.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – With prosecutors still debating whether to seek the death penalty against Michele Anderson, charged in the murder of six members of her family on Christmas Eve, the Seattle Times looks at the odds that the Carnation, Wash., woman might actually be sentenced to death. Women rarely receive the death penalty, the paper finds, and in Washington state, no woman has ever been put to death.

In the US, of the 3,300 inmates currently sitting on death row, only 49 are women, totaling less than 1.5%, and since 1977, just 11 of the 1,100 inmates executed were females. Crime experts say family disagreements are the most common motive behind multiple killings, but they disagree over why women, especially mothers, rarely see death row: One law professor griped, “It’s like there’s something more valuable about women’s lives. Women are also treated differently when they're victims."