Copied and pasted press release from No Pride in Prisons.
Transgender and queer activists are planning a hunger strike, demanding the transfer of an incarcerated trans woman to a women’s facility. Jade Follett is currently being held in the Rimutaka men’s prison, despite requesting more than two months ago to be transferred to a women’s prison.
According to the group, No Pride in Prisons, Jade is in a precarious situation. ‘We’ve received correspondence from Jade saying she requested transfer to a women’s facility in June, and has yet to see any action taken on behalf of the Department of Corrections,’ says spokesperson Jennifer Katherine Shields.
‘We are very worried about Jade. Although she’s a very strong woman, we know that a men’s prison is not a safe place for a trans woman.’
The group has pointed to a 2007 study which shows that trans women were 13 times more likely than the general population to be sexually assaulted in men’s prisons.
‘However,’ Shields says, ‘the reality of the problem for trans people in the New Zealand prisons cannot be fully known. Corrections refuses to collect and release adequate information about trans women in prison, despite numerous Official Information Act requests.’
‘We are also calling on Corrections to release information regarding the number of trans prisoners across the country, including what facilities they are being held in.’
The group has informed the Department of Corrections that if she is not moved before the 27th of August 2015, they will stage a hunger strike.
‘Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity. The fact that Corrections hasn’t done anything about this for two months shows their complete lack of respect for trans people.’
‘We are calling on corrections to immediately transfer Jade to a women’s facility for her to serve out the rest of her sentence.’
According to Movement 03.05.04 of the Department of Corrections’ Prison Operations Manual, all this requires is approval from the Corrections CEO, Ray Smith.
‘Ray Smith must give immediate approval for Jade’s transfer.’
Strikers include prominent community figures and advocates, such as Jennifer Katherine Shields, Emilie Rākete, Aaliyah Zionov, Chase Fox and others.
‘We will hold daily vigils on Auckland’s K’Road until Jade has been transferred.’
‘We will not allow corrections to continue its transphobic disregard of Jade’s safety.’