Women’s Role In Corrections: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

3171 words - 13 pages

Crime is an ongoing problem that has been evolving for many years. From incarceration to working in correctional facilities, women obtain unique characteristics in corrections. This paper gives an account of the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of the past accounts of women in corrections. The good addresses the struggles and obstacles women have overcome to gain equal access in corrections. The bad involves the harassment and negative aspects women were subjected to endure in a correctional setting, and negative situations from male offender and coworkers. The ugly gives a description of the sexual abuse and involvement between female correctional officers and male offenders in custody. This research paper will provide insight to women’s role in the correctional field; and will propose the use of rehabilitation programs and workshops for women correctional officers will provide adequate workers in correctional institutes.
The Good – Establishing a Place in Corrections
During the eighteenth century, most punishments took place within the community. Incarceration was not as popular as it is in today’s society. Women offenders were punished by male figures instead of going through the court system; usually by their fathers, husbands, guardians, or employers. Because men were recognized as the head of their house holds, they were expected to chastise anyone under their authority (wives, children, servants, or apprentices (Smith, 2012, p. 1695). In the correctional setting, history shows it was customary for women to assume occupational positions involving administration and clerical job duties; especially when working in a gender segregated facility. Mary Weed was the first woman to run a correctional facility in the United States. She became the warden of Philadelphia’s Walnut Street Jail from 1793 to 1796. She filled this position after her husband’s death, who worked as the previous warden of the facility (Matthew, 2010, p. 54).
An incident at New York’s Auburn Prison involved a female inmate that conceived while in custody and was later killed from a brutal beating while she was 5 months pregnant. After scandals of sexual abuse occurred in prisons, more women were appointed as matrons to help protect female inmates from physical and sexual abuse from other inmates and male staff members. They also assisted with organizing and providing recreational activities for women offenders. Matrons were always subordinate to the wardens of the facilities they worked in, prior to 1870, were always male job positions (Smith, 2012, p. 1695). Women’s role in corrections was limited: even during the Reform Movement, which lasted from the late nineteenth century until the early twentieth century. Women were only allowed to work in institutions with female offenders. Matrons originally performed custodial purposes, but later advanced to positive role models in the institutional milieu. Matrons were expected to emulate sober, hardworking, godly,...

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