Indiana Girls School

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Indiana Girls' School
Established 1869
Opened 1907
Closed 2009
Current Status Closed (as a juvenile facility)
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Indianapolis, IN
Alternate Names
  • Indianapolis Juvenile Correctional Facility


In 1869, Indiana established the first detention facility in the country that was exclusively for females. Originally named the Indiana Reformatory Institution for Women and Girls, it was located just east of downtown (on Randolph St., between Michigan and New York) and housed both juvenile (ages 10 to 18) and adult offenders. In 1899 the two groups were separated since it was believed that the women were a bad influence on the girls, and in 1907 the girls were moved to a new set of buildings west of the city, on what is now Girls School Road. It was at that time that the name of the facility was changed to the Indiana Girl’s School.

Girls were committed via court order. The reasons for commitment included truancy, using bad language, incorrigibility, intoxication, immorality, and smoking cigarettes. Once there, the girls were assigned a course of training by a committee. The available training programs varied over the years and included such things as home management, needlecrafts, foods, clothing, waitress training, beauty culture, and nursing. Most girls stayed at the facility at least a year. Once they completed their program satisfactorily, they were released on probation, which lasted another year. Once that was completed they were typically allowed to return to their families.[1]

In 1914, one girl in the school lost her life to a Diphtheria epidemic which sickened forty-six other girls. The school first started a parole system in 1926. On September 10, 1964, the Indiana State Police were dispatched to the school in order to stop a riot that involved 200 girls. A Grand Jury started an investigation of the riot, and discovered that there were many factors that led to the incident, including homosexuality, drug usage, and a lack of respect for the school’s superintendent. The school also had 65 girls escape during this time. In 1985, some girls filed a lawsuit against the school alleging that the school had made them stay in their cells wearing nothing but socks and underwear, but this charge was later dropped.

In 1996, the facility was renamed The Indianapolis Juvenile Correctional Facility. Despite the name change, the facility functioned as an all-girls school until January 2006, when juvenile males were moved onto the same grounds from the former Indiana Boys’ School in Plainfield, Indiana (though they were later removed from the facility, making it all-female once again).

On July 7, 2009, it was announced by Department of Corrections Commissioner Buss that Indianapolis Juvenile Correctional Facility's population will move to a site near a state hospital in Madison, Indiana ending the 102 years as the Indiana Girls School. The Indiana Womans Prison, located Downtown Indianapolis, will move to the old Girls School to accommodate overcrowding. Some male inmates located near Plainfield Correctional Facility will move into the old Woman's Prison downtown. All the changes will be made by year's end.

Images of Indiana Girls School[edit]

Main Image Gallery: Indiana Girls School