A free chapter from my book ‘Murders, Mysteries and Misdemeanors in New York,’ available now.
Like many countries the US has an at times contradictory attitude to its death penalty, no more so than when a woman faces execution. Women account for fewer than 5% of death sentences in the US and less than 1% of those executed have been female regardless of their crime. That isn’t to say that female killers are less brutal or cruel than their male counterparts although they are far rarer. They’re also far less likely to die even when a male co-defendant does.
Murderer Martha Place caused particular controversy not only for her gender but also the way she died. In 1890 William Kemmler became the first convict ever electrocuted. In 1899, nine years and forty-four male convicts later, Martha Place became New York’s 46th electrocution and the chair’s first female victim.
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