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Feb

women and the death penalty

Casey Anthony is faced with the death penalty should she be convicted of killing her daughter, Caylee Anthony.  If sentenced with death, Casey will join just one other Florida female inmate death row – Tiffany Cole.

The one Florida woman on death row today, Tiffany Cole, was sentenced to death in 2008 for her role in the killing a couple from Jacksonville, Florida; they were buried alive.  Cole is currently on death row at Lowell Correctional Institution, which is situated in the Central Florida area, north of Orlando.

Florida Executions since 1973

Since 1973, Florida has executed two women, Judias Buenoano, and Aileen Wournos.

Buenoano was sentenced in 1985 for the 1971 crime in which she poisoned her husband with arsenic.  She was also convicted, and sentenced to life, in the 1980 drowning of her paralyzed son. Buenoano was the first woman to be executed using the electric chair in the state of Florida.  Her execution occurred in 1998.

Aileen Wournos was sentenced to die in 1992 for the murder of a Clearwater, Florida businessman.  Wournos is also thought to have been implicated in the death of a number of other men, and is often referred to as Florida’s only female serial killer. You may recall the movie, Monster, based on her criminal history – her prostitution and terrible escapades with men.

History of Women on Florida’s Death Row

Since 1926, a total of 14 women who were sentenced to death, had their sentences commuted or reversed.  The commuting of a few of the sentences were a result of the U.S. Supreme Court, in 1972, determining that capital punishment laws were unconstitutional.  Capital punishment was reinstated in 1976, hence the death sentences of Aileen Wournos and Judias Buenoano.

One could clearly conclude that Florida does not like to impose or carry out the death penalty on women.  The woman on death row since 1976, who were sentenced to die, and were either released, or had their sentences reversed, have terrible but interesting cases.  I have outlined a short history of the women who were originally sentenced to die, below.

Sonia Jacobs.  Convicted for her part in the shooting of a Florida Highway Patrol trooper and his friend.  Her death sentence was overturned in 1981, and she was sentenced to life with a 25 year minimum mandatory sentence.  In 1992 her case was reversed on appeal, and she plead to second degree murder. She was released in 1992 because she her sentence included time served.

Kaysie Dudly.  Sentenced to death in 1987 for the murder of her mother’s employer – a wealthy Florida widow.  She was re-sentenced (possibly after appeal), to life with a 25 year minimum mandatory.  She is currently serving her time at Lowell Correctional Institution.

Carla Caillier.  Was sentenced to death in 1987 to death for the murder of her husband in 1986, in Tampa.  She was re-sentenced in 1988 (possibly after appeal), to life with a 25 year minimum mandatory.

Dee D. Casteel.  Sentenced in Dade County in 1987 for murdering an 84 year old woman who had been inquiring about her missing son.  Casteel and another person had ordered the woman’s son to be murdered the month before.  Casteel paid two auto mechanics to carry out the murder. Her death sentence was vacated in 1990.  She was then re-sentenced to life, but she died in prison in 2002, at the Broward County Correctional Institution.

Deidre Hunt. Sentenced to death in 1990 for the 1989 shooting of two men that she was paid to kill. She was videotaped killing one of the men.  She plead guilty and was re-sentenced to life in 1998.  She is currently at Homestead Correctional Institution.

Andrea Hicks Jackson. Sentenced to death in 1984 for the murder of a police officer, in Jacksonville, Florida. She filed a false report regarding a vandalized car and shot the officer five times when he attempted to arrest her. Her death warrant was signed in March 1989 but then stayed in May of 1989 by the Florida Supreme Court.  She was re-sentenced to life in 2000, and is currently serving her time at the Lowell Correctional Institution.

Ana Marie Cardona. Sentenced to death for torturing and murdering her three-year-old son. The child was wearing a shirt with lollipops on the front when his beaten body was found by the police in Dade County.  The boy was then nicknamed “Baby Lollipops.”  The sentence was vacated in November of 2002 and she was released from prison.  Will Casey Anthony’s case turn out as this one did?

Virginia Larzelere.  Sentenced to death in 1993 for the killing of her husband, a practicing dentist.  She was re sentenced to life in 2008 and is currently serving her time at the Lowell Correctional Institution.

Women on Death Row in the United States

Since 1976, a total of 12 women have been executed in this country since 1976.

Some statistics:

  • Since the year 1608, there are 568 documented cases of executions of women.
  • In the past 100 years, over 40 women have been executed in the U.S.
  • As of January 1, 2010 there were 61women on death row.

Will Casey Anthony be number 62?

In reality, the numbers do inform us that the actual instance of execution of female offenders, compared to men, is rare.  According to The Death Penalty Information Center, since 1608, confirmed cases of female executions account for only 2.8% of the total executions carried out.

The Supreme Court, in 1972, had it right when they ruled that capital punishment was cruel and unusual, and wholly unconstitutional.

Will Casey Anthony sit on Florida’s death row?  Of course it will depend on twelve men and women who will hear her case, so it’s impossible to know.  However, if you read the stories of the women who had their death sentences reversed, chances are, if Casey Anthony is sentenced to death (and I hope she is not), and if she has a competent attorney for her appeal, she may not spend the rest of her life in jail.

Florida clearly does not like to kill women.

References:

Florida women photos and info: http://www.dc.state.fl.us/oth/deathrow/women.html

Research Article: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/documents/femaledeathrow.pdf

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