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Wretched Sisters

Examining Gender and Capital Punishmend


Mary Welek Atwell

Since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976, fourteen women have been put to death in the United States. The criminal justice system defines crimes committed by women in a particularly gendered context. Wretched Sisters is unique in its analysis of the legal and cultural circumstances that determine why a small number of women are sentenced to death and provides a detailed account of how these fourteen women came to be subjected to the ultimate punishment.
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Chapter 11. #500 and #510


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· 11 ·

#500 AND #510

Kimberly Mccarthy and Suzanne Basso

Kimberly McCarthy: Number 500

When Kimberly Lagayle McCarthy was executed by lethal injection on July 26, 2013, she became the five hundredth person to be put to death in Texas since the reinstatement of the death penalty. Much of the attention to her execution focused on the number 500, as commentators noted that Texas was responsible for more than one third of state-imposed deaths in the modern period. Carrying out McCarthy’s death sentence also marked Texas as the state which executed over one third of the women put to death since Furman v. Georgia.

McCarthy was African American. Her victim was white and female. The crime occurred in the Dallas area, one of the most active death-penalty jurisdictions in the country. Those factors made McCarthy’s case a likely candidate for capital punishment. On the other hand, it differed from many of the other crimes that sent women to death row in that McCarthy was found guilty of murdering Dorothy Booth in the course of a robbery. Although Booth was a neighbor and acquainted with McCarthy, the crime stands apart from many discussed in this book as it did not involve an intimate. In a sense, the robbery and murder were more like crimes committed by men than by women, especially as the motive was related to drugs. The incident apparently grew out of ← 265 | 266 → McCarthy’s need for...

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