Profile America: Women’s Prison

Sunday, October 9 — On this date in 1873, a sturdy and somber-looking building opened its doors to admit 17 long-term residents. Then it promptly closed and locked those doors. With the opening of the Indiana Reformatory Institution for Women and Girls in Indianapolis, the country had its first maximum-security penitentiary built for and managed by women. Formerly, female convicts were imprisoned in facilities with men. The reformatory is now named the Indiana Women’s Prison. It houses around 600 of the approximately 113,000 women in federal and state prisons. Overall, there are around 1.35 million prisoners in state facilities. America’s state governments spend over $48 billion per year on their corrections systems.

Profile America is in its 20th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

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