US state set to execute first woman since 2005
A woman who persuaded two men to kill her husband and stepson with sex and money has been sentenced to death in the US State of Virginia.
Theresa Lewis is scheduled to be executed on September 23 and will be the first execution of a woman in the US in five years.
It is rarer for a woman to be executed in the United States. Since the reinstatement of the death penalty there has only been 11 women executed, while 1200 men have been executed.
“People relate more to the defendant if it’s a woman. They see a person rather than just a crime,” said Richard Dieter, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. “It’s harder to execute an individual with characteristics.”
Most executions go by without any attention from the media. There is approximately one execution every week in the US, said Dieter. Each time a rare occurrence, such as a female execution, the whole of the death penalty debate moves to the forefront in the US.
While the acts Lewis carried out are terrible, Dieter argued that she is not a violent person and that execution should be “reserved for the worst of the worst.”
Dieter explained that Lewis did not commit the acts of murder herself, and was in fact lily coned into paying the two men into committing the acts. Lewis is borderline mentally disabled and does posses a personality disorder.
“She’s a person with mental disabilities who got in with the wrong people and they convinced her to do this,” said Dieter.
He added, “She is a person of an IQ of about 72, that’s close to mental retardation, she has this personality disorder that makes her dependent on other people. These two guys came to her, offered to be her friend and talked her into this sort of thing.”
Dieter argued that the death penalty is flawed in how it is applied. The penalty should target the worst of the worst as opposed to the most vulnerable, he argued.
“She pleaded guilty, that makes it an easy case. The two men who did the shooting, very much involved, getting paid to do this, they got life sentences. How is that fair?” said Dieter.
Further, the death penalty is unfair, as it is biased based on race and other factors in the US.
Dieter said that in polls 65 percent of Americans say they have no moral opinion against death, but most support the sentence of life without parole when the option is given.