The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in England and Wales has relocated transgender prisoners out of women’s jails due to potential security risks following the Isla Bryson scandal. The tightened rules aim to safeguard female prisoners, leading to the transfer of at least two transgender inmates to men’s jails or a dedicated transgender wing.
The review highlighted concerns over sex offenders and individuals with convictions for serious violent crimes, including murder, attempted murder, and kidnapping. The government’s spokesperson emphasized the significance of biological sex and revealed that the vast majority of transgender women are held in men’s prisons.
The decision to relocate transgender prisoners stems from the controversy surrounding Isla Bryson, a transgender woman previously known as Adam Graham, who was convicted of raping two women before transitioning.
The tweet below verifies the news:
“We’ve changed the rules so transgender women who’ve been convicted of sexual or violent offences – or who retain male genitalia – cannot be held in a women’s prison unless in truly exceptional circumstances,” said a Government spokesman.” https://t.co/bVDy1ZUo53
— Belstaffie (@Belstaffie) July 16, 2023
Initially housed in the all-female Cornton Vale prison, public outcry led the Scottish Government to reverse the decision. Consequently, a review of prison rules for transgender inmates was initiated in Scotland. Dominic Raab, the former justice secretary, subsequently strengthened the regulations in England and Wales.
MoJ’s Approach and Transfer Details
The MoJ has implemented a revised approach to transgender prisoners. Individuals convicted of sexual or violent offenses or those retaining male genitalia will generally not be held in women’s prisons unless truly exceptional circumstances exist.
The ministry has declined to disclose the exact number of transgender prisoners transferred out of the female estate but acknowledged that “a number” had been relocated, potentially up to six individuals. In 2022, England and Wales had 168 legally-male transgender women prisoners, with only six in women’s prisons and the remainder in men’s facilities.
Differences in Approach and Scotland’s Presumption
The approach adopted by the MoJ differs from that of Scotland. In England and Wales, transgender women can only be held in female prisons if a risk assessment conducted by a Complex Case Board (CCB) deems it safe to do so. In contrast, Scotland follows a presumption that transgender prisoners will be housed according to their self-declared gender identity unless concerns about risk arise.
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