Content caution: Incarceration, LGBTQIA phobia, native incarceration, physical violence, suicidal ideation, aversion treatment

ALGA provides a selection of material concerning struggles for prison reform and prison abolition. This version of from the Archives will uncover a few of this history.


istorically, queers have been targeted by condition violence, nonetheless tend to be these days. It’s question that plenty of your record can also be tangled up aided by the battles for prisoner legal rights, and prisoner assistance. There have been two key samples of this at ALGA, that are the main focus of the part, and also the next edition of out from the Archives.

Let’s start out with
Sandra Willson
‘s tale, through the archive of females Behind Bars. Created in 1939, Sandra ended up being ridiculed a lot of the woman life to be a lesbian. At 17, she was actually living with the woman girl and this female’s mom discovered letters that Sandra had written to this lady.

Mom reported Sandra into authorities, in a time in which homosexuality was illegal. Lesbianism was not unlawful. It is hard understand precisely why this was the case, however it is possible that certain cause was actually as a result of the generally held 19th century opinion that unlike men, females did not have powerful sexual needs, meaning that the risk of females being intimately keen on some other women decided not to occur to male political leaders for the period.

Lesbians were, but harassed and criminalised by authorities under a range of offences, such as ‘offensive behavior’ lawful restrictions which were used selection of lesbian and gay males in many claims.


andra was actually taken to Parramatta’s women Residence. This establishment might subjected often times because of its horrendous cruelty, abuse and neglect. It actually was in which women whom transgressed gender and/or sex norms happened to be provided for end up being “reformed.” It was also where lots of native women were forced to stay, away from their families, and treated horrendously.

The real history within this location is actually gruelling. Sandra was actually compelled to undergo aversion treatment, which we all know is actually significantly worrisome and probably extremely traumatic.

Image courtesy of ALGA

Whenever Sandra at long last could leave, she started teaching as a nursing assistant at a psychiatric medical center. Truth be told there, she struck right up a relationship with a female. However, additional personnel realised and certain the lady it was immoral. The girl finished it.

The archives contain Sandra’s response:

We moved into a situation of shock… We decided killing myself personally immediately… By a long practice of events I made the decision that killing myself alone had been no-good – men and women will be glad to see myself eliminated – anytime I killed one of them, ‘society’, somebody would cry and perchance end up being sorry which they had interfered in my existence and my right to stay.

Sandra after that murdered an arbitrary taxi driver. She passed by herself into police a couple of days later on.

Her hearing lasted a few hours, as a doctor stated she was actually crazy, and also the jury voted getting the woman committed, the year had been 1958. In 1971, she had been stated perhaps not crazy, and taken to Silverwater Correctional Centre.

She had been never ever found guilty and sentenced to prison time, as a result of the promises of her insanity, therefore it actually was debateable exactly why she was actually used in a prison.


hen ladies Behind Bars began campaigning on her release, she had been confined for 17 decades. During the time, the longest phrase for murder in NSW ended up being 13 years. The party campaigning on her behalf release reported that:

Sandra Willson is still in jail for just two reasons: this lady has survived every attempt to destroy the woman might and, while she repents her crime, she will not repent the woman lesbianism.

Sandra Willson was actually at long last circulated after 18 years of incarceration. She turned into an activist on the outside as well, and demonstrated Guthrie residence, the very first halfway house for ladies exiting prison.

She died in 1999 within chronilogical age of 60.

Sandra’s tale is very important in queer background, because she doesn’t fit the neat box of delighted individuals and white wedding events. Queer solidarity with all inmates is definitely important because queers tend to be at the mercy of state assault, since archives express, and also as we nonetheless see nowadays throughout Australian Continent, and internationally.

Jess Ison has been doing a PhD and tutoring at Los Angeles Trobe University regarding area of the Wurundjeri men and women. Jess will be the agent the Institute for Critical Animal Studies and a rescuer when it comes to Coalition Against Duck Shooting. Of all nights Jess are present ranting about jail abolition, fermentation and high heels.

Nick Henderson is a curator and archivist, with a passions for gathering, keeping and celebrating Australian Continent’s queer and gender varied histories. Of many Facebook groups Nick are present spamming posts or pictures through the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives, or attempting to seduce newbie volunteers to become listed on the archives.