Women Prisons Before the 1800 Essay

625 Words Nov 26th, 2012 3 Pages
What were women’s prisons like before the 1800s? “Women were punished as men were, with the exception that pregnant women were often spared punishment until after they had given birth. Women were generally mixed with male prisoners and supervised by male jailers, which made the women doubly subject to abuse and exploitation.”(Foster, 2006) Women who violated the law, then, also violated their subservient position and were seen as morally suspect as well as criminal. Prior to the development of prisons in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, punishment for women and men took a variety of forms: Serious offenders were put to death by hanging or burning, or banished from their community or sold as slaves
How have they changed?
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Prisoners were forced to work without pay, often in dangerous conditions; convict miners were killed in cave-ins in the 1800s (Leonhardt A1). In 1887, Congress for the first time attempted to outlaw the leasing of convict labor to private parties (Ingley 28+), but there was backlash at the state level: refusal to house federal prisoners.

What finally drove legislation restricting prison labor were the Depression and the increasing fear that private jobs would be lost to cheaper convict labor. The 1935 Hawes-Cooper Act, along with the Ashurst-Sumner Act of 1940, outlawed interstate trade in convict-made goods, making it a felony and a federal crime to traffic in them (O'Meara 14; du Pont, "Some Benefits of Prisoner Labor"). Subsection (b) of the Ashurst-Sumner Act does exempt goods made in State prisons for use by any prison in any other state, or federal prison-made goods for use by any other federal prison (Ingley 28+). Congress banned prison labor use on federal contracts exceeding $10,000 the same year (du Pont, "Some Benefits"); the Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act placed limits on the purchase of prison-made goods by the federal government (Ingley 28+).

Corrections: The Fundamentals, by Burk Foster. Published by Prentice-Hall. Copyright © 2006 by Pearson Education, Inc.
Du Pont, Pete. "Some Benefits of Prisoner Labor." The San Diego Union-Tribune 30 Nov. 1995: pg.?
Leonhard, David. "As Prison Labor Grows, So Does the Debate." The

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