The U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976 after a decade-long hiatus. Since then, 11 women have been executed in the United States. None was from Mississippi.
"Death sentences and actual executions for female offenders are rare in comparison to such events for male offenders. In fact, women are more likely to be dropped out of the system the further the capital punishment system progresses," the Death Penalty Information Center says in a new report.
The report says that as of June 30, there were 49 women on death rows across the country. Three women currently are among the 67 prisoners on death row in Mississippi.
40 women have been executed in the U.S. in the past 100 years.
Mississippi has not executed a woman since Mildred Johnson, 23, was put to death May 19, 1944, by electric chair, for beating her landlady to death.
Since 1900, only 2 other women have been executed in this state:
- Pattie Perdue was executed by hanging on Jan. 13, 1922. No details of her crime were available.
- Mary Holmes, 35, was executed by hanging on April 29, 1937. She had been convicted of beating her employer to death.
Nationally, women account for about 10 percent of murder arrests but for only about 2.1 percent of people sentenced to die and 1.4 percent of people currently on death row, according to a study by Ohio Northern University law professor Victor L. Streib.
Streib said defense lawyers go to great lengths to make sure jurors will be sympathetic.
"Attorneys generally will try to package the female client in the image of being very feminine, in the old-fashioned, traditional way, as a mother or a grandmother," Streib said. "And the prosecutor has to dehumanize the defendant before they will sentence them to death."
For 6 years, Michelle Byrom was the only woman on Mississippi's death row.
She was convicted in the 1999 murder of her husband, and is in a cell at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Rankin County, the only maximum security prison in the state for women.
She has been joined at CMCF by 2 other women sentenced to death:
- Kristi Fulgham, 31, sentenced to death in 2006 for murdering her husband, Joseph "Joey" Fulgham.
- Lisa Jo Chamberlin, 35, sentenced to death in 2006 for the deaths of Linda Heintzelman and Heintzelman's boyfriend, Vernon Hulett.
Fulgham and Chamberlin are just beginning their appeals.
In November 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from Byrom. She was seeking a hearing on her claims that she had evidence that could win her a new trial. Byrom was convicted in 2000 of killing her husband of 20 years and recruiting her son in the plot.
In a rare move at her 2000 trial, Byrom asked Circuit Judge Thomas Gardner, instead of the jury, to decide whether she should serve life in prison or be put to death. Gardner sentenced her to death.
Byrom, 50, has more appeals moving through the federal courts, says Assistant Attorney General Marvin White Jr.
The courts already have rejected Byrom's claims that she killed her husband after years of abuse and that her attorney failed to provide her an adequate defense.
In a 2003 series of letters to The Associated Press, Byrom said she never leaves her cell and prison officials and other inmates verbally abuse her.
"A person once said that prison is a mind game. They will try to break you down to feel like you aren't even human," she wrote. "I sit here day to day, praying for the day when they come to me and say, 'Michelle Byrom, pack. It's time you went home.'"
Yes.....some while after the prosecutors that put them there.
If they don't execute them , no mater for which reason, I wonder why they don't house them in a better environment with better conditions. I mean, they KNOW they likely never will execute the women, so why not house them as if they've LWOP???? I just wonderd...
Yes.....some while after the prosecutors that put them there.LOLIf they don't execute them , no mater for which reason, I wonder why they don't house them in a better environment with better conditions. I mean, they KNOW they likely never willexecute the women, so why not house them as if they've LWOP???? I just wonderd...
Everywhere else they house the death row inmates separately, which is what has made the cruelty at Muncy so difficult to fathom. Please tell me whether this is what you find or think or not.......and I touched on this before and Tanzareyes wasnt bright enough to see that I commented from a position of neutrality and was not stating what I think....or believe.....just what I see as true.
Rightly or wrongly dr inmates keep their heads down. They get accustomed to single cell conditions.......very poor single cell conditions, but nevertheless they have some peace and autonomy, some space and can rule how they occupy vast amounts of their own time, without interference from others. For some there will be advantages in that situation. Yet, others of more gregarious nature, would find that difficult. I do not know too much about the MS Women's conditions, not in detail. But every death row bar none is vile and/or disgusting and there is no reason to doubt MS is different.
I am interested that it was Carolyn King that was so vocal about the sudden change at Muncy. Everything I knew of her suggested she would have preferred around a few others. Maybe that says death row does strange things to people. It is a cruel, wicked environment everywhere that only a few seem to come to terms with, however long they are incarcerated.
I do understand your point Paul, and I think if someone, like the ladies in Muncy for exampel, spent years in their own block seperated from other inmates it will be difficult to house them with others later. And you are surely right: most of DR inmates prefer an own Unit to escape the attackes they likely have to endure thru other inmates. So I didn't mean to house them with the general population but to create similar conditions / possibilties for them on their unit.
Everything I knew of her suggested she would have preferred around a few others
Yes, but only if she can be the No 1 Unfortunately not everyone was delighted by this idea...