Lisa Montgomery will be executed on January 12. She has been on death row since her sentencing for the 2004 strangulation murder of pregnant Bobbie Jo Stinnett. After killing her, Montgomery cut open Stinnett’s belly and took her baby home — somehow, the baby survived.
Today, the NYT ran a story arguing a miscarriage of justice, in effect, because she’s a woman. The author believes women shouldn’t be executed because if a woman does something bad then it’s probably her husband-daddy’s fault: The ‘abuse excuse’. A succession of husband-daddy’s were mean to Montgomery so she became a psychopathic killer. Her mommy was also mean to her (but that of course was her mommy’s husband-daddy’s fault). I’m summarizing, but read it for yourself and tell me if I’m wrong.
Seventeen men have been executed in the US this year, and I don’t see anyone outside their families jumping to their defence. When an undereducated white man aged 40-49 goes to the chair, nobody gives a shit. There hasn’t been a woman executed in the US since 1953, yet hundreds of men have died by lethal injection or electrocution in that time, and most people’s attitude to the news is “He deserved it.” Why are only men held ultimately responsible for their crimes? Why men, when they are victim of the same abuses that apparently make female offenders immune from capital punishment?
If you live in a country that kills people who commit certain offences, you can’t discriminate between the sexes. The system is already discriminating enough: Currently there are 2502 men on death row across the United States, but only 51 women. That’s 98% to 2%. Even so, Montgomery’s advocates say her defence counsel failed because they don’t understand ‘gendered violence’ — but that’s bullshit. A jury heard all the evidence both for and against Montgomery, deliberated, and recommended the death sentence.
So are we jury-blaming now? Of course not, because there would have been women on it. No, it was Mongomery’s “all male defense team” that are to blame. There’s only a single, token sentence in the entire piece that even alludes to the vast and yawning gulf of gender bias: “Of course, boys and men are also victims of abuse and sexual assault.” But that’s it. Not one sentence that even suggests the author believes that males should not be executed either.
I have two sons, so I’m glad not to live in a country that so willingly kills its boys. Standard defense counsel in overwhelmingly cases is to mitigate on sentence. Their client’s going to gaol, so spare them the chair. They do this for everyone, including the worst of the worst, by humanizing the defendant. This tactic has a quasi-religious stink about it: The belief that people are made evil (ie it’s always somebody else’s fault). How a defense solicitor can do this all day yet still sleep at night, I will never understand.
I am no advocate for the death sentence. The gaols are packed with men (and women) who make Lisa Montgomery’s acts appear mundane. But if this is what you call justice, then let it be justice for all, including all the little, innocent boys who grow up to be bad men. I wonder if Bobbi Jo Stinnett had a little boy?