When I started at Geneva, the institution going through a period of major change. The kids were being allowed out of their rooms more often and a behavior modification program was initiated with a token economy. Where previously inmates were contained most of the time unless they were going to school or eating, now they had more ‘freedom’ and the opportunity to make decisions about how their time was spent and how they behaved.

Prior to this, it was common to have periodic ‘crack ups’. This occurred when the inmates in one cottage rioted and destroyed the cottage. The next cottage would hear the commotion which would set them off. Right around the institution the crack ups would spread from one cottage to the next destroying furniture, walls, doors and banisters. Staff were helpless to stop the tidal wave of anger that gripped the girls so locked themselves in a room until it subsided. The new freedoms and personal responsibility eventually reduced riots until they stopped happening all together.

The institution became ‘co-ed’ and, with the introduction of males on ‘campus’, the girls’ behavior and culture dramatically changed. The token economy meant you could make purchases including attendance at a dance where the boys would be present. Before boys, the girls would ‘go steady’ with each other. Couples were evident by their dress – slips or petticoats hung a few inches below the hem of the state issue dresses. Socks were mixed and matched between couples. A red sock on the right foot, yellow on the left matched the mirror reverse on the other half of the couple. With boys around, the culture of female couples fell away to be replaced with conscientious grooming, hair styles, feminine flirtations and matching socks.