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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: January 2020

7 - Gender and Release from Imprisonment

from Part II - Prosecution and Punishment


This chapter draws on research into the lives and prison experiences of around 650 male and female convicts who were released on licence (an early form of parole) from sentences of long-term imprisonment in England in the mid- to late nineteenth century. While both men and women were overwhelmingly committed to the convict system for larceny, their treatment differed significantly. The vast majority of convicts were released early on licence from their prison terms, even those committing very serious offences. However, female offenders were released slightly earlier and under different conditions than men. Having offended against their gender as well as society, more moral rehabilitation was deemed necessary for deviant women than for men, leading to requirements such as entering refuges or shelters. Female convicts’ internment in these institutions after being granted a licence reveals the impact of gender expectations on female prisoners in England.