The Penalty Is Death: U. S. Newspaper Coverage of Women's Executions

Front Cover
University of Missouri Press, 2002 - Social Science - 336 pages
In 1872 Susan Eberhart was convicted of murder for helping her lover to kill his wife. The Atlanta Constitution ran a story about her hanging in Georgia that covered slightly more than four full columns of text. In an editorial sermon about her, the Constitution said that Miss Eberhart not only committed murder, but also committed adultery and "violated the sanctity of marriage." An 1890 article in the Elko Independent said of Elizabeth Potts, who was hanged for murder, "To her we look for everything that is gentle and kind and tender; and we can scarcely conceive her capable of committing the highest crime known to the law." Indeed, at the time, this attitude was also applied to women in general. By 1998 the press's and society's attitudes had changed dramatically. A columnist from Texas wrote that convicted murderess Karla Faye Tucker should not be spared just because she was a woman. The author went on to say that women could be just as violent and aggressive as men; the idea that women are defenseless and need men's protection "is probably the last vestige of institutionalized sexism that needs to be rubbed out."
 

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Contents

Viragos and Unnatural Mothers NineteenthCentury Mothers
27
The Demons Decline TwentiethCentury Mothers
42
Husbands and Other Family Members
52
Other Schemes
72
Jazz Journalism and the Execution Story As Drama
85
Excesses in 1920s Louisiana
87
Female Mass Murderers
115
Execution Stories As Serial Dramas
133
Hollywood Female Tough Guys and Love Triangles
191
Southern California Defendants
193
The Female Tough Guy
209
Little Attention for First Executions
224
Love Triangles
240
Little Support for Changes to Execution Laws
253
Government Secrecy of Executions under Federal Authority
272
The Late 1990s and Beyond
283

Race Ethnicity and Sexual Preference
147
PreCivil War Press and Slave Executions
149
TwentiethCentury Black Defendants
159
The Irish More Animal Than Human?
171
Sexual Preference Changes during the Past Fifty Years
183
The HighTech Media at the End of the Twentieth Century
285
Epilogue
303
Works Cited
311
Index
319
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