What were women’s prisons like before the 1800s? How have they changed? Before the 1800s prisons were not the same as they are today. Before the 1800s a woman was treated like the men. Women were treated just like the men were when it came to punishment. The only way a woman was spared is if the woman was pregnant. After the women would have the baby then they would be punished. Women and men were often mixed together and supervised by men guards, this often lead to the woman getting abused or exploitation. Most of the women in prison were thieves and prostitutes.