Thursday, December 20, 2012

An appalling decision

That's the only way to describe a judge's decision to jail a transgender woman in a male prison. While the nature of her crime makes a sentence of imprisonment appropriate, sending her to a male prison creates a significant risk of abuse. The judge's response to that risk was not to send her to a female prison, but to give her a 15% discount on her sentence as compensation for the abuse she will suffer.

Think about that for a moment: the judge has basically sentenced someone to be abused, possibly raped. And the best they can do is put a price on it: four and a half months of imprisonment.

This is simply wrong. The state is supposed to punish you with imprisonment. And it is legally required to protect prisoners from violence, and to treat them with humanity and respect for their inherent dignity as a person. This judge has failed on all of those counts. And all because they can't see past the gender someone was to the gender they are.

Overseas, trans prisoners get to serve their sentence in a prison appropriate for their gender. We need to do that here. And if our prison system cannot accommodate them, then it is simply unfit for purpose.