Oaklawn School for Girls: Juvenile Reform in Rhode Island, by Kelley Sullivan Pezza
America Through Time
The Oaklawn School for Girls was born of the State of Rhode Island’s desire to separate female juvenile delinquents from adult offenders. Housing female inmates, who were sentenced to the school for crimes such as prostitution, as well as petty misbehaviors, the school sought to make young ladies out of wayward youths. For some of the girls, it was the only safe and loving haven they had ever known. Many of the girls housed there had been abandoned as infants at the State Home & School or other institutions. Many had lost a parent at a young age. Others had simply given up on life, growing up in households where alcohol and abuse were rampant. The Oaklawn School for Girls offered inmates a brighter future and a reason to believe that they were girls who deserved love, respect, and a second chance.