University of Colorado Law Review
Carolyn B. Ramsey, Women’s Votes, Women’s Voices, and the Limits of Criminal Justice Reform, 1911–1950, 92 U. Colo. L. Rev. 829 (2021), available at https://scholar.law.colorado.edu/faculty-articles/1349.
Deriving its vigor from the work of grassroots organizations at the state and local levels, the League of Women Voters (LWV) sought, in the first half of the twentieth century, to provide newly enfranchised women with a political education to strengthen their voice in public affairs. Local branches like the San Francisco Center learned from experience—through practical involvement in a variety of social welfare and criminal justice initiatives. This Article, written for a symposium commemorating the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment, assesses the role of LWV leaders in California and especially San Francisco in reforming three aspects of the criminal justice system that affected women: courts, police, and prisons. Based on a close analysis of historical primary sources, it reveals the contradictions and shortcomings, as well as the achievements, of one group of female leaders who sought to carry on the suffragists’ legacy.
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