Cross-Sex Supervision of Female Inmates: An Unintended Consequence of Employment Law Cases Brought by Women Working in Corrections

Christine E. Rasche, University of North Florida
Kirby D. Geraghty, Boyd & Jenerette

The supervision of female inmates by male guards in the early days of the American prison system led to widespread and routine sexual abuse, which was one of the reasons for the movement to create separate women's prisons staffed entirely by women. However, a century after the first women-only prison was established in 1863, male correctional staff have not been reintegrated into women's prisons in the United States as the result of case law decisions originally brought by women correctional staff seeking employment parity. In a number of women's prisons today, the majority of correctional staff are now male. This paper traces the history of the case law and correctional policies in this area, and describes how the legal efforts to equalize the employment opportunities for women in corrections has led to unintended, often negative, consequences for women in prison.

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Updated 05/20/2006