Thursday, 1 May 2008

We Forget At Our Peril

It's sometimes easy to forget the risks we run. We say "Oh, I'm not a criminal, it's none of my concern what happens in jails". But you don't have to have committed a crime, nor even be found guilty when innocent. Just being arrested can be enough. And being recognised as being "specially at risk" is no defence.

December 1997. After an appearance in a Local Court, bail was refused and Ms M. was remanded in custody. Late on 22 December she was transported to a remand and reception centre where that night and into the morning of December 23 she underwent induction assessment. She was identified as transgender by the welfare officer and it was determined she should go into a “protection” wing. Having spent December 24 in court Ms M. spent December 25 and 26 in “strict protection”. During this time she was brutally raped at least twice during daylight hours. The attacks were so vicious that two other prisoners took the unusual step of reporting the incidents and giving sworn evidence. On December 27 Ms M. was found dead in her cell hanging by a shoelace.

Inquiry into a death, Coroner J Abernethy, Wednesday 21 July 1999. Ref: W308 201/99 JI-D1.

Quoted in :
Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice No. 168: Transgender inmates
Jake Blight
ISBN 0 642 24182 1 ; ISSN 0817-8542
September 2000 (PDF here).

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