In the early days of Idaho’s penitentiary there was a common belief that women could not be held responsible for murder. Juries were comprised of only men at this time, and it was generally thought that women didn’t have the intellectual capability to be so plotting. Often women were not tried for first degree murder; they were characterized as crazy rather than manipulative. “Anecdotally, they [juries] didn’t have it in their hearts to hang a woman,” according to Amber Beierle, Site Manager of the Old Idaho Penitentiary. This is often reflected in the short amounts of time that they served for crimes such as murder and assault, but also reflected in the size of the women’s ward at the Old Penitentiary. When the Penitentiary was built there was no space for women at all.
This document was originally published by the Idaho Library Association in The Idaho Librarian. This work is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution License. Details regarding the use of this work can be found at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/.
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