Law & Order: Season 8, Episode 21

Bad Girl (29 Apr. 1998)

TV Episode  |  TV-14  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 85 users  
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The pursuit of the death penalty for a police officer's killer who found religion in prison becomes a political football for the DA's office, and Briscoe's daughter gets in trouble with the law.



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Title: Bad Girl (29 Apr 1998)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Isabel Gillies ...
Monica Johnson
Monica Johnson's Defense Attorney
Mr. Flynn
Cathy Briscoe (as Jennifer Bill)
Monica's social worker
Emily Schoener
Ross Sanders


Police believe a young woman is responsible for the stabbing of a police officer. McCoy is stunned during his cross-examination of the defendant on the stand. McCoy and Ross struggle with the morality of the death penalty when she claims she has become a "born again" Christian on death row and has asked to end her appeals. Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

29 April 1998 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This episode is most likely inspired by Karla Faye Tucker, a Texas woman who was executed in 1998 despite pleas on her behalf because she had converted to Christianity and become a model inmate. Karla, along with her accomplice murdered several people with a hammer and pickaxe. See more »


Jack McCoy: I talked to the ADA in Brooklyn. He's under a lot of pressure to make drug cases. He can't be seen playing favorites.
Detective Lennie Briscoe: So it's Cathy's bad luck that she's the daughter of a white cop. This ADA, can't you... scratch his back a little bit?
Jack McCoy: I offered to beg off on a couple of cases with concurrent jurisdiction. He turned me down. I got nothing else to offer him. He's a dog with a bone.
Detective Lennie Briscoe: Yeah, the bone happens to be my kid.
Jack McCoy: I know, Lennie. I'm sorry.
Detective Lennie Briscoe: Thanks anyway.
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User Reviews

Faith Cannot Move the Gurney.
12 April 2011 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

Early in his career, Benjamin Franklin offered to establish his printing presses in news-starved Southern cities like Charleston. He sent his equipment and managers gratis. At the same time, by printing Franklin's books and newspaper, The Pennsylvania Gazette, the charity would bring him some income. He'd own the best newspaper in the South.

There's nothing wrong with that. Why shouldn't a sense of civic responsibility be combined with self advancement? That's what the Protestant Ethic is all about.

In this better than usual episode, Adam Schiff is in the same position. A fithy, murderous young woman is convicted of killing a cop and sentenced to death, but she's undergone an evidently sincere religious conversion. Schiff is under a lot of pressure from a well-funded law and order type in the immanent election and it's to his advantage to see the girl executed. At the same time, he actually believes that execution is justified. Like Franklin, he can get something out of doing good.

I had a couple of questions though. Okay, the girl converts and become a zealous Christian. She wants the needle because she feels she deserves it. I think such conversions can be real, that there are people who actually believe in dualism. Roosevelt Grier, the ex athlete and now ordained minister is one. He was on the "Larry King Live" show and mentioned that his brother had died earlier that day. King was aghast. "Then why are you HERE?" Grier replied with self-evident sincerity that the body was just a momentary place that his brother had inhabited, but that he was now in a better place. It was a stunning moment. But why do all these inmates convert to some brand of Christianity, except for some blacks who convert to a variant of Islam? Why aren't there any born-again Theravada Buddhists in the slams? At any rate, Adam Schiff is at peace with himself over the execution. So is Jamie Ross -- whose name I loathe. No more girls' names beginning with the letter J from now on, okay? No more Jennifers or Jillians. And no more Megans or Regans, while we're at it. Please, fellas, give it a rest. Jamie Ross is satisfied not because she thinks the execution is justified but because she opposed it from the beginning. Her position is firm. So Schiff is happy and Ross is disappointed.

The guy with his huevos in a vice is Jack McCoy. He's satisfied about the death penalty. Sentencing was out of his hands anyway. Yet there is something in him that is noodging him, that keeps him squirming, some crise de conscience. Maybe that's one of the things that happens when you take Catholicism too seriously. You keep telling yourself "Ego te convicto." At any rate, he's the guy with the dissatisfaction, as he should be.

6 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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