When we think of hardened criminals our minds rarely think of women. Rare is the Aileen Wuornos. At the time of this film there were 3,200 men waiting on death row for their execution date. There were only 60 women. Though a small number they still attract plenty of attention. We want to know all about them and how they got there. Director Sabrina van Tassel’s short documentary film allows us to get to know a few of these women and their lives.
The women here are Shawna Forde, Melissa Lucio, Linda Carty, Debra Bracewell, and Michelle Byrom. All are on death row for very different reasons. Forde, who was the head of an anti-immigration group, killed a Mexican man and his daughter. Lucio was the mother of 13 children and had killed her two-year-old daughter. Bracewell was forced by her own husband to kill another man. Carty wanted to kidnap a child so ordered the rape and murder of a young woman to get her hands on the child. Finally, Byrom, whose case is the most different, is no longer on death row, but her story offers a counter story to the previous ones.
Despite what you might think about what these women have done, it is still hard to watch them “living” on death row. It is rather inhumane. Most will leave it thinking that there must be another way.
Feelings of hope, love and utter horror crop up while watching Women on Death Row. What the film does do well is reinforce the idea that there is usually two sides to every story. To even what we think are cut and dry cases.
You can stream the film, originally released in 2017, on Tubi.