If women could not be kept under man’s control, then they must be punished more extensively than a man. The 1913 Muncy Act of Pennsylvania dictated a mandatory and exclusive sentencing provision for women convicted of a crime, to be imprisoned for more time than a man convicted of the same crime. Most women received indeterminate sentencing under this rule, that led to the long-term incarceration of women.
The constitutionality of the Muncy Act wasn’t called into question until 1966 when Jane Daniels was charged with burglary, aggravated robbery, carrying a concealed deadly weapon and possession of a firearm. She was convicted and Judge Stern sentenced her to 1–4 years in prison on May 3, 1966. However, on June 3, he vacated his own sentence and resentenced her under the Muncy Act to an indefinite term of imprisonment.
She appealed, claiming a violation of the 14th Amendment, under the equal protection clause. The Muncy Act definitively provided a distinction between males and females when it came to sentencing, but the appellate court did not agree, and her appeal was denied.
Ironically The Muncy Act was repealed in1968, due to its violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.
As we recognize the benefits, historical significance, and impact of women in our communities, across our nation and in the world at large, may we also remember the long, often winding, and difficult road it has been and continues to be, toward freedom.