Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

Stanford Cazier


Caryn Beck-Dudley


Jay Anderson


I spent my first night behind bars when I was about ten years

old. My father was the associate warden at the Utah State Prison,

and had been called to the prison because of an emergency. Since my

mother was out of town, I had the opportunity to accompany my

father to the prison. I will never forget the overwhelming feeling as

the huge iron bars opened and we were admitted to the penitentiary.

I was instantly introduced to screams and profanity from the

inmates, I felt like I had left Utah and entered a strange new world,

indeed I had. Fortunately for me, I spent the remainder of the night

in my father's office. Yet, I recall wondering what the men and

women had done to end up in this miserable place. The events of

that night sparked an interest in prisons that has lasted until the


This paper is the culmination of the fascination I have had

with penal institutions since my youth. Writing on the Utah prison

as partial fulfillment of my Masters degree was a natural topical

choice. Once I began to research the prison, and study what other

scholars had produced on the subject, I noticed a gap in the

historiography. Several historians had written about Utah's penal

history, but, there was little if any mention of prison conditions,

programs and services, or facilities designed specifically for

women inmates. To tell the saga of female prisoners in Utah, the

development of penal institutions for men and women on a national

level, the philosophical and religious ideology behind the settlement

of the Salt Lake valley, and the establishment of prison facilities in

Utah must first be told. Once the grassroots have been discussed,

the unique history concerning women inmates in Utah can be

presented. This work is an attempt to bring to light the long

struggle for penological equality women have endured in the Utah

territory and subsequent state.

Included in

History Commons