Women’s Imprisonment

Initially, incarcerated male and female felons in state prisons were not separated. Women were incarcerated with men until about 1870, when the first national meeting of prison reformers and administrators took place. However, female prisoners were treated differently than male prisoners. Although housed together, female prisoners generally received very poor care compared with male prisoners, including having no educational, vocational, or recreational programs. At the 1870 meeting, these reformers and administrators made several important changes to the prison system, including the treatment and housing of prisoners.

These changes included a new style of prison institution—the reformatory. The reformatory movement not only changed the structure of the prison for women, as the cottage-style dormitory replaced the traditional maximum-security penitentiary, but also the reformatory movement was responsible for ...

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