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
Since the 19th century, women offenders in the United States have been held in separate women's facilities. These institutions have always been shaped by ideas of gender as well as by the pathways that lead women to them. Because there are a number of differences between women's and men's prisons, it is important to examine women's institutions separately. In the first American prisons, women were housed in sections of men's prisons, where they suffered from neglect and abuse. Left alone for long periods of time, denied regular exercise, education, work assignments, or religious instruction, women inmates were also particularly vulnerable to sexual assault by male officers and inmates. Much like today, most of the early women prisoners were incarcerated for crimes related to their gender and the struggles in their lives—drunkenness, petty theft, and prostitution. The first prison for women in the United States was approved by the Indiana legislature ...