Women on death row are such a rarity that, once condemned, they may be ignored and forgotten. Ohio, a typical, middle-of-the-road death penalty state, provides a telling example of this phenomenon. The Fairer Death: Executing Women in Ohio explores Ohio’s experience with the death penalty for women and reflects on what this experience reveals about the death penalty for women throughout the nation.
Victor Streib’s analysis of two centuries of Ohio death penalty legislation and adjudication reveals no obvious exclusion of women or even any recognition of an issue of sex bias. In this respect, Ohio’s justice system exemplifies the subtle and insidious nature of this cultural disparity.
Professor Streib provides detailed descriptions of the cases of the four women actually executed by Ohio since its founding and of the cases of the eleven women sentenced to death in Ohio in the current death penalty era (1973–2005). Some of these cases had a profound impact on death penalty law, but most were routine and drew little attention. A generation later, reversals and commutations have left only one woman on Ohio’s death row.
Although Streib focuses specifically on Ohio, the underlying premise is that Ohio is, in many ways, a typical death penalty state. The Fairer Death provides insight into our national experience, provoking questions about the rationale for the death penalty and the many disparities in its administration.