This article examines the release and aftercare of female prisoners in England during the late nineteenth century. Primarily it seeks to illuminate the use of residential provision for women who had been released from both convict and local prisons, contrasting the two systems and suggesting how such institutions may have affected the women's subsequent offending. The research presented here draws on two sets of data, the material on local prisons uses a case study of female prisoners at Stafford prison (Turner, 2009; 2011) and the convict prison data draws on the licensing and release of female convicts collated for a recent ESRC funding project on the costs of imprisonment (Johnston & Godfrey, 2013a). This article outlines and reflects upon aftercare and residential provision for women leaving prison, during a period when a woman released from prison was regarded as 'the most hopeless creature in the world' (Reverend William Morrison cited in Gladstone Committee Report, 1895). Aftercare and support was variable for those leaving local prisons, but for convict women released on conditional licence to a refuge, this could offer them the opportunity to build a new life after release.