Alex Hannaford in the Guardian:
On 23 September, 40-year-old Teresa Lewis will become the first woman to be executed in the state of Virginia for almost a century. She’ll also be the first woman put to death in the US since 2005. Considering that, in the intervening five years, around 220 men will have been executed, it puts it into perspective: executing women is unusual. Of more than 1,200 executions carried out since the US supreme court reinstated capital punishment in 1976, only 11 were of women. And each time that happens, it’s stunningly bad PR for an increasingly unpopular facet of the American justice system.
The facts of the Lewis case are fairly gruesome. In 2002, she was convicted of persuading two men to kill her husband and stepson to collect a $250,000 life insurance policy. In return, she promised them a portion of the money, and sex with her and her 16-year-old daughter.
Lewis pleaded guilty. So you might think that this is a cut-and-dried death penalty case. But I don’t think so, and if you look at the facts, and consider the way the death penalty is administered in the US generally, it leaves more than a bad taste.