Notorious Prisons in the USA – Indiana Women’s Prison

11 Jan, 2017//Posted by : aebbvelocityloca//Category : blog

Women who end up in prison go to a separate institution, or at least a separate ward of a prison. This seems so absolutely normal to us today that we often forget that it wasn’t always so. As in many other aspects, women were often treated more poorly than men even when they were taken to prison. Shockingly, as late as the 1970s, some women were held in male prisons, despite separate women prisons existing for a hundred years at that point. The first permanent women-specific prison was opened in 1873, outside Indianapolis. It doesn’t have any designated name, so it is referred to as Indiana Women’s Prison.

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The prison was initially set outside Indianapolis, but has since been encircled by the growing city. In 2009, the prison was moved to the former location of the Indianapolis Juvenile Correctional facility. Until the move, this was the only maximum security prison in the United States which was completely surrounded by residential areas.

Previous practices

Before this prison was opened and designated solely for women, there were various practices, but we can broadly group them into three phases. The first phase was keeping women together with the men. This earliest, and most brutal practice needed to be abandoned because of daily sexual abuse and degradation these women suffered. The second phase was keeping women in separate wards of men prisons. This was much more agreeable in terms of safety, but it lead to different problems. Women were often neglected in every way, and received far less resources than their male counterparts. Finally, with the advent of Indiana Women’s Prison, women only prisons were introduced, with all equal rights and resources as male prisons.


The prison was actually built in 1868, but the first inmates arrived in the 1873, so this latter year is given as the date when this prison became operational. Early management had various women activists, including a Civil War nurse Sarah J. Smith and a Quaker prison reformer Rhoda Coffin. Right from the inception, Smith, who was the first superintendent, insisted on teaching inmates skills which might help them find a worthy occupation upon release from prison. When the prison was opened, it housed only 16 inmates, but just 30 years later, it was reported that there were almost 200 of them.


The prison is designated as medium to maximum security. It has the only female death row facilities in Indiana. The death row currently holds no inmates. Despite having several women sentenced to death, no female inmates were ever executed in Indiana. Other wards, however, hold around 400 prisoners. The demographics of this population is mixed, and extremely varied. Mentally challenged prisoners, geriatric, juvenile and pregnant inmates are all housed here, and require constant and varied support from the staff. The staff consists of 165 individuals.

Women are often neglected and discriminated against, even in this unsavory topic that is incarceration. If you are facing a pretrial imprisonment, consider using the right to be set free until your trial. Affordably Easy Bail Bonds offer the best and easiest bail bonds in Oceanside and all of San Diego County. Contact today for further information.

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