Pub. date: 2005 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952514 | Print ISBN: 9780761927310 | Online ISBN: 9781412952514| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Some women in prison form sexual and intimate relationships with one another. These sexual relationships may be consensual or forced. Lesbian prisoners may or may not have identified as homosexual prior to their experiences of incarceration. Though relatively little research exists on this topic, that which does speaks to issues surrounding prison culture; race, class, and gender; and the effects of imprisonment. Until recently, relatively little was known about the history of lesbian prisoners because criminologists rarely studied them, and officials usually failed to mention them. However, recent historical studies along with some earlier primary source material document the presence of lesbians in penal institutions from at least the 19th century. According to historian Estelle Freedman (1996), the first women to be identified as prison lesbians were predominantly African American. Ideas about race and gender intersected in the body of the prison lesbian, as black women were thought to be ...