Josephine Shaw Lowell was a Progressive Era reformer, here concerned with the overcrowded and mixed-gender penitentiaries at the end of the 19th Century. Although ostensibly a defender of women in prison, Lowell actually normalized the rhetoric of female victim-blaming and mobilized racist theories of eugenics. Although increasingly doubtful about the reformative capacities of individuals, these activists hoped the prison would quell the intemperate social order as a whole. Although fairly pessimistic, then, they were incredibly patriotic in their attempts to create a more biologically and morally fit citizenry which they hoped to achieve through greater biopolitical state control.
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