Prison service urged to develop transgender policy

Prison service urged to develop transgender policy

The Irish Prison Service (IPS) has been urged to develop a national policy on the safe custody of transgender men and women following concerns about trans prisoners being held in prolonged solitary confinement.

Prisons inspectors said two trans women prisoners in Limerick Prison are living “an extremely isolated existence” where they are locked in their cells for up to 23 hours a day, impacting on their mental health.

The concerns were raised in one of the thematic reports published by the Office of the Inspector of Prisons this week, the first such reports to be published since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Limerick report was based on a visit in April 2021.

One of the trans prisoners described their typical day to inspectors as: “I come out, get food, make a call, that’s it, nothing. I’m locked up after one hour and that’s it.”

“The experience of imprisonment for the women concerned does not align with the general population experience; this does not comport with Yogyakarta Principle 9 which requires that protective measures involve no greater restriction of their rights than is experienced by the general prison population,” inspectors said.

According to the report, management at the prison informed the inspection team that “the provision of a safe environment for the women was labour intensive”.

The inspectorate has urged the Irish Prison Service to “develop, in partnership with relevant civil society organisations, transgender people in prison and other relevant stakeholders, a national policy regarding the safe custody of transgender women and men”.

The inspectorate has also asked to be provided with the prison service’s LGBT+ awareness training curriculum and materials, as well as the attendance numbers (broken down by prison) and information on how often the programme is delivered, updated and reviewed.

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