Women’s rights campaigners are calling on the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) to remove violent inmates from the all-female Cornton Vale prison, citing the potential danger they pose to other women prisoners. Reports indicate that four out of five transgender inmates being held in the prison are convicted murderers.
One of these inmates is Sophie Eastwood, formerly known as Daniel Eastwood, who strangled his cellmate at a young offenders’ institution in Dumfries in 2004. Eastwood’s sentence was later increased for an attack on a prison guard before deciding in 2018 to self-identify as a woman. The killer is now said to identify as an infant and wants all meals “blended like baby food,” according to The Times of London.
The decision to house these inmates appears to be at odds with the SPS’s own “trauma-informed” strategy (pdf), designed to “ensure that living arrangements for women help to reduce fear and anxiety.” In response to the issue, protesters gathered outside Holyrood last week to urge Scottish ministers against placing transgender criminals in female prisons.
Marion Calder, of For Women Scotland, said: “The honest truth is that the general public care little of people in prisons but they care even less about women in prison. Men could be in for any reason and people go, ah well. But a woman being in prison it’s almost like they deserve it.”
The Scottish Feminist Network echoed the campaigner’s comments, telling The Epoch Times: “This sort of story puts even more pressure on Scottish Prison Services, the Minister for Justice, and the Cabinet Secretary for Justice to do something now.”
In response to queries from The Epoch Times, an SPS spokesperson said it had a “proven track record” in safely managing “complex and challenging individuals.”
“All trans men and trans women in our care are risk-assessed to ensure they are accommodated in a way which meets the rights and needs of the individual, as well as others in the establishment,” the spokesperson added.
A Scottish government spokesman also told The Epoch Times that “management and accommodation of prisoners within the prison estate has been and will continue to be an operational matter for the Scottish Prison Service.”
However, the prison service’s handling of the case of double rapist Isla Bryson, formerly known as Adam Graham, has caused controversy. Bryson was initially housed in an all-female prison before being moved to the male estate following outcry from the public and politicians.
In response, the SPS ordered an urgent review which found that Bryson, who spent a day-and-a-half in the all-female facility near Stirling, was housed in a segregation unit and orders from the prison governor meant there was no contact with other prisoners.
The key findings and recommendations resulting from the review were published on Thursday, but SPS chief executive Teresa Medhurst said she believed it “is not necessary” to publish the report due to the level of personal information it contains.
Recommendations made by the review include improved communication within the justice sector and the creation of a “shared justice process” for the admission of transgender people into prisons. A pause on the movement of transgender prisoners with a history of violence against women into the female estate will continue until a wider review of the handling of transgender prisoners can be undertaken.