“The members of the Woman’s League of Louisiana are interesing themselves actively in securing police matrons for the jail and prison, and the several important stations in New Orleans.”
From the National Law Enforcement Museum blog website:
“The position of the police matron began in the 1890s and quickly became the trend for major cities in America. Right before the turn of the 20th century, law enforcement in America found themselves in desperate need of assistance with social problems they were expected to handle, in addition to crime. As cities urbanized, more and more young women lived without the protection and support of families and in jeopardy of descending into the sway of prostitution in local brothels. Prior to police matrons, male officers handled arresting women and were confounded by the abandoned children, elderly, and homeless people on the streets who all needed the basic necessities of life, such as food, clean water, and shelter. These individuals did not break the law, and people argued that they did not belong in jail with law breakers because of their unfortunate circumstances. The “Police Matron” became the chosen solution to these problems. These women first dealt with female prisoners, but they soon extended out to serve as social worker, counselor, and welfare officer as needed.”
American Law Register Volume 11 1872
The encyclopedia of social reform provides a description in 1897.