Georgia’s only female death row inmate is slated for execution by the end of this month. Kelly Gissendaner has been an inmate of Georgia Department of Corrections for over 17 years but was given the death penalty in 2008 for her role in the murder of her husband. The Huffington Post reports that she will be the first woman executed in the state of Georgia since the year 1945. That is, of course, if her execution happens and she’s not pardoned at the eleventh hour.
Gissendaner reportedly conspired with a lover in 1997, convincing the man to commit the murder of her husband, Doug Gissendaner. Her boyfriend, Gregory Owen, stabbed the man to death and then staged the crime scene to look like a robbery gone wrong by taking the man’s wedding ring and watch. The plot, masterminded by Kelly Gissendaner, was supposed to result in the lovers collecting on the victim’s life insurance policies. Owen ultimately turned on Kelly and testified against her in court, which spared him the death penalty but ended in her being put on death row. She’s spent the past several years in prison, and even has a personal ad looking for pen pals on a popular prison pen pal website.
The last female death row inmate to be executed in Georgia was a black woman named Lena Baker, who was convicted by an all-white jury in the shooting of her employer with his own gun. In 2005, the state tried to redeem itself by finally admitting that the woman had acted in self-defense. NPR reports that Lena Baker worked as a maid before her conviction, but shot her employer when he attacked her.
Aside from Georgia, there are approximately 59 women on death row in the United States. Even though that’s only a little over 1 percent of prison inmates in the country, many of the women are players in high-profile cases, such as Wendi Andriano, who murdered her terminally ill husband in Arizona, Cynthia Coffman, who killed at least four women with her boyfriend, and Linda Carty, who famously kidnapped and murdered a young woman so she could steal her baby. It should be noted that of the women on death row in the U.S., only 15 of them have been executed since the 1970s.
Do you think Kelly Gissendaner deserves the death penalty that she faces in just around two weeks? Many people are divided on whether or not they support the death penalty. The death row inmate is hoping to be granted clemency during a hearing scheduled in just five days. If she’s successful, there will not be an execution, and she could end up with life behind bars instead.