The Scottish government Sunday announced a prohibition on moving transgender persons with any history of violence against women into women’s prisons until the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) completes a review of transgender prisoner management. Justice Secretary Keith Brown said the measures are an “urgent” response after transgender woman Isla Bryson was found guilty of raping two women and was sentenced to Cornton Vale Women’s Prison in Stirling last Tuesday. Another transgender prisoner, Tiffany Scott, was due to move to a women’s prison last weekend.
Brown stressed that the policies at SPS have not been changed or impacted by the recent passing of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill and said, “[D]ecisions about the location and management of prisoners will continue to be based on thorough risk assessment, drawing on the expertise and input of relevant professionals and applying any lessons learned from the reviews referred to.” A report will be sent to the CEO of SPS by Friday.
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon spoke on the issue in the Scottish Parliament last week. There, she stated, “In general, any prisoner who poses a threat of sexual offending will be segregated from other prisoners, including during any period of assessment.”
Equality Network spoke up on the matter, maintaining that anyone who has committed sexually violent crimes and poses risks to women should not be housed with women on the female estate. Nonetheless, the group emphasized the significance of having individualized assessments and subjective decisions. For example, if a transwoman poses no risk to other women in custody, she should be rightfully accommodated in the female estate since she might face “significant risk” if placed elsewhere. Equality Network said:
A blanket rule about where trans people in custody are accommodated would be wrong.
The assessment of where a trans person in custody is held does not depend on whether or not they have a gender recognition certificate (GRC).
— Equality Network (@LGBTIScotland) January 27, 2023
Under the new measures, Bryson is under segregation at Cornton Vale. In Scottish prisons, transgender people make up around 0.2 percent of the population or 15 people.