Prisons to improve transgender facilities

Prisons to improve transgender facilities

Limerick prison is the committal prison for female offenders from Cork, Limerick and the other four counties in Munster. Picture Dan Linehan

A NATIONAL policy is being developed by the Irish Prison Service to ensure the safety of transgender people in custody.

That is according to an inspection report on Limerick prison, published by the Office of the Inspector of Prisons. Limerick prison is the committal prison for female offenders from Cork, Limerick and the other four counties in Munster.

The report outlined: “The Irish Prison Service is currently developing a national policy for the safe custody of transgender women and men.

Consultation is currently ongoing with relevant stakeholders as well as other jurisdictions.” 

During an inspection at the prison in early April, the Inspectorate met two transgender women who were on the E1 landing, which is the female wing in Limerick prison.

The report said: “Both women were subject to Rule 63 of the Irish Prison Rules 2007 and subsequently locked in their cells for up to 23 hours per day; in instances where this occurs for periods of more than 16 days, this is prolonged solitary confinement, as defined in Rule 44 of the Mandela Rules.” 

It added: “Both women informed the Inspection Team that their experience in isolation had adversely impacted on their mental health.

"One of the women informed the Inspection Team that she has limited access to the Listener’s Programme which she described as ‘beneficial but infrequent.’ Due to the current construction works, prisoners on E-wing no longer have access to their own yard. One of the women explained she does not go outside to the yard as she is uncomfortable and alone. She also described her isolation as ‘mental torture’.” 

Meanwhile, the Inspectorate highlighted that while men serving a life sentence can enter an open prison towards the end of their sentence, there is no such option available to women serving life sentences.

The report also recommended that period products be provided “without charge to all prisoners who may require them, and that this be done in a way that reduces stigma and embarrassment”.

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