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Almost fifty years ago, the United Nations set standards that reached international consensus and limited male correctional employees’ activities in female inmate residences. These restrictions were of particular importance to women prisoners. It is well documented that female prisoners who are particularly vulnerable, are traumatized by unwanted touching, assault, harassment, and invasion of their physical privacy and integrity. Despite this population’s history and international legal standards, there was a significant turn around in penology. The resulting cross-gender supervision for housing units and body searches became the norm in the United States.

This article examines how the U.S. penal system transposed themselves form the benign protectors of modesty and dignity of female prisoners form the intrusions of male staff, to administering the present day correctional systems that generally permit cross-gender body searches and housing unit supervision in female prisons.

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2 Margins 175 (2002).