|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
Building of the Female Prison at Coburg began in 1889. The Female Prison, Pentridge was proclaimed in May 1894 under the Gaols Act 1890, as a separate establishment for female prisoners, operating within the walls of Pentridge Gaol (VA 863). It was Victorias first prison solely for females. Female prisoners held in the Melbourne Gaol were transferred to the new prison, and the Matron from Melbourne Gaol was appointed its first Governor.
This agency was known by several other names, such as Female Penitentiary, Female Prison Coburg, Female Division.
In 1909 a Reformatory Prison was established, which operated as a division within the Female Prison (or the Female Penitentiary, Coburg as it was then known). The Reformatory Prison (Female) was proclaimed under the Indeterminate Sentences Act 1907. The Reformatory Prison (Male) was established in September 1909. The Indeterminate Sentences Act 1907 established reformatory prisons. Prisoners deemed to be habitual criminals could be held at the Governors pleasure in Reformatory Prisons, until they demonstrated that they were eligible for release on probation. This legislation established the Indeterminate Sentences Board as a part of Inspector Generals Office.
In 1924, the Female Prison, Pentridge was reproclaimed and part of its area was taken to form the Metropolitan Gaol for male prisoners (following the closure of the Melbourne Gaol).
Following the resignation of the Governor of the Female Prison in 1926, the position of Female Governor was abolished and the Female Prison was placed under the control of the Governor of the Metropolitan Gaol. Female prisoners were immediately under the charge of a Matron.
In 1932, the Female Prison was incorporated, along with the Metropolitan Prison and the Penal Establishment Pentridge, into His Majestys Gaol, Pentridge. The proclamation of HM Gaol Pentridge revoked the proclamation of the Female Prison of 1924.
From 1933, female prisoners were held in the Female Division within HM Gaol Pentridge, under the charge of a Matron, and under the control of Pentridges Governor. (The Metropolitan Gaol became D Division, the receiving division for the whole of Pentridge. The Annual Report of the Inspector General for 1933 noted that, following the amalgamation, clerical work was now mainly carried out in the office at D Division, rather than separate record keeping systems being maintained by each prison.)
The Reformatory Prison for female prisoners continued as a division of Pentridge until 1957 when it was closed by proclamation. Reformatory prisons were abolished by the Penal Reform Act 1956 (no 5961).
However, prior to the closure of the Reformatory Prison, its female prisoners and those housed in the Female Division of Pentridge had been transferred to Fairlea Female Prison (VA 926), which was officially opened by the Chief Secretary on 22nd June 1956.