Women and the Death Penalty in the United States, 1900-1998

By Kathleen A. O'Shea | Go to book overview

15
Louisiana: Lethal Injection

The state of Louisiana has sentenced five women to death since 1900. Three of these women, Ada LeBoeuf, Julia Moore, and Toni Jo Henry, were executed, and there is one woman on death row in Louisiana today.

There were 152 executions in Louisiana between 1930-1977 and there have been nineteen since 1977. Antonio James who was the subject of the TV documentary Final Judgment and an ABC-TV Prime Time Live episode, was the only prisoner executed in Louisiana in 1996.

Louisiana's electric chair, "Old Sparky," once located at Angola, was retired after the state changed to lethal injection in 1991. It is presently being stored by the state museum system at the old U.S. Mint in the New Orleans French Quarter, where the museum director has said, "We have no plans to exhibit it in the foreseeable future."

In 1991 when Louisiana switched its method of execution to lethal injection, about 400 inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola laid down their tools in protest after they were given an order to help build the table that would be used for executions. The warden intervened and said it had been a mistake to ask prisoners to participate in the venture, and an outside contractor built it.

Andrew Lee Jones, executed July 22, 1991, was the last person to die in Louisiana's electric chair, and Robert Wayne Sawyer was the first person to die in the state by lethal injection. Sawyer was Louisiana's 21st and the nation's 194th person to be executed since 1976.

A 1993 study ( Klemm) showed that whether or not a person is sentenced to death in Louisiana largely depends on three factors -- the race of the victim, the victim-offender relationship, and the geographical location of the crime. According to Klemm's study, in Louisiana one is more likely to receive a sentence of death if one kills a white victim and the crime is committed in the southern part of the state.

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