Story: Prisons

Jane O'Meara

Jane O'Meara

This police photo shows Jane O'Meara, who was sentenced to four months in prison for brothel-keeping and theft in October 1908. Relatively few women were imprisoned during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Female criminals directly contradicted the stereotype of women as demure homemakers and moral guardians. Women prisoners were therefore often regarded as incorrigible 'degenerates', beyond hope of reformation. This attitude particularly applied to prostitutes, female alcoholics and other 'rowdy women', who lived publicly disorderly lives.

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How to cite this page:

Peter Clayworth, 'Prisons - Women in prison', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 26 June 2024)

Story by Peter Clayworth, published 20 Jun 2012