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Feminist Legal Studies

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 115–136 | Cite as

Dr Mary Louisa Gordon (1861–1941): A Feminist Approach in Prison

  • Deborah Cheney
Article

Abstract

This article discusses the work of Dr Mary Louisa Gordon, who was appointed as the first English Lady Inspector of Prisons in 1908, and remained in post until 1921. Her attitude towards and treatment of women prisoners, as explained in her 1922 book Penal Discipline, stands in sharp contrast to that of her male contemporaries, and the categorisation of her approach as ‘feminist’ is reinforced by her documented connections with the suffragette movement. Yet her feminist and suffragist associations also resulted in the marginalisation and dismissal of her work, such that Mary Gordon and Penal Discipline are virtually unknown today. Nevertheless, her insights into the position and needs of women prisoners retain a striking contemporary relevance.

Keywords

Corston report Mary Louisa Gordon Prison Commission Prison inspection Suffragettes Women prisoners Women’s Social and Political Union 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kent Law SchoolUniversity of KentCanterburyUK

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