Women have worked in New York City's Department of Correction for decades, but never in such large numbers as they do today. Women make up 45 percent of about 9,300 uniformed employees of the department, reports the New York Times. From guards to wardens to the four-star chief, Carolyn Thomas, they fill almost every rank in the city’s 11 jails. And in many respects, they are changing the culture of the city's jails.
They are former soldiers, beauticians and bank tellers. Three-quarters of the women are black. They are single mothers who took the job to support their children, and many see the job–with its salary of up to $75,000–as a ticket to the middle class. They are grandmothers like Angela Crim (“Crime without the 'E,' ” she says sweetly), who carries handwritten Scripture in her purse. Some of the women are natural caretakers who dispense wisdom to inmates along with bars of lye soap. Others are hard-nosed disciplinarians. They all have one thing in common: They are taking their place in a world traditionally dominated by men.