After completing a degree in classics, doing social work in the East End of London, getting involved in suffrage activism and publishing a book of poems, Blanche Baughan settled in New Zealand in 1900. By the 1920s her interests had shifted from poetry to penal reform and support for prisoners on release. She founded the New Zealand Howard League for Penal Reform in 1924 and housed ex-prisoners at her home in Akaroa in the 1930s. Her study of male and female prisoners, People in prison, was a controversial indictment of the treatment of prisoners and led to friction with those running prisons. She was especially critical of the treatment of prisoners with psychiatric disorders.
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