Jail matrons serve an important function in the running of a jail housing female prisoners. While the specifics of this job have evolved over the years, women working in this field have always been responsible for the general monitoring of and care for women within the justice system. By employing a woman to fulfill these duties, many jails seek to ensure that female prisoners are treated fairly and reduce the likelihood of gender-related misconduct accusations.
Control Intake of Female Prisoners
Jail matrons are often called upon to report to intake when new female prisoners enter the jail system. They commonly monitor this intake procedure and complete any sensitive intake tasks, such as searches, to ensure that the rights of the female prisoner are not infringed upon and that she is made as comfortable as possible during this process.
Facilitate Prisoner Interactions
When prisoners within the jail system have conflicts, the jail matron must mediate these disagreements to avoid the eruption of violence. To complete this task, matrons often carefully monitor the interactions of prisoners throughout the day and watch for any signs of discord. Through careful observation and immediate response to disagreements, matrons can reduce the likelihood of fighting within the jail.
Monitor Prisoner Transport
Matrons often go with female prisoners during transport to and from court or other allowed outings. During this transportation monitoring, the matron may be called upon to assist the prisoner in moving in and out of transport vehicles and taking off and putting on hand or leg cuffs. This duty is most common in jail systems in which there is more than one woman performing the duties of matron. When only one matron exists, this governance official rarely leaves the jail to perform this function.
Oversee Female Medical Examinations
When female prisoners require medical attention, matrons often attend these examinations. These female jail officials may remain in the room during a medical examination if the jailee is seen as posing a serious flight risk, or remain just outside the room to ensure that the prisoner does not attempt escape during the examination process.
While the role of jail matron is different today, historically, matrons performed many domestic duties including meal preparation, reports the San Diego County Sheriffs Museum. These female jail monitors once worked much like a house mother, tending to the needs of convicts to ensure the safe running of the jail. Today's matrons almost never perform these duties, but now work more as an equally qualified peer to male jail officers.