Forgiving Guin Garcia: Women, the Death Penalty and Commutation
Lorraine A. Schmall
Northern Illinois University - College of Law
December 7, 2009
Wisconsin Women's Law Journal, Vol. 11, p. 283, 1996
Guinevere Garcia was forgiven, and blamed for that forgiveness, because she was a woman. Her sentence was commuted not because women enjoy discriminatory mercy, but because, like many men who are not forgiven, she deserved mercy. It was because of her sex that she was convicted and received the death penalty. While there may be a gender difference in punishment and commutation, it should not exist unless gender is a valid proxy (which it will be in many cases) for the sum of excuses and explanations that demand mercy, and that women who benefit from this genuine effort at tailoring punishment should not be blamed. Moreover, any penalty, but especially the death penalty, demands contextual reasoning. If we strive for just punishment, the best justice is that which considers all relevant facts, and conclusions. Since under our jurisprudence of commutation, "good and sufficient reason exists to pardon a person who is guilty under the law but is not morally blameworthy,..." we need to move toward applying the "female" standard of empathy and principles of mitigating both responsibility and punishment for crime.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 42
Keywords: Death penalty, women, capital punishment, sex, disparate, genderAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: December 8, 2009
© 2013 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
This page was processed by apollo4 in 1.141 seconds