Prison officials defend sending a trans female rapist to a women’s jail
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Prison bosses have been called to answer questions after a woman convicted of raping two women wound up in a female prison.
An urgent review has been ordered by Keith Brown, Scotland's Justice Secretary, following public outcry over the decision that saw Isla Bryson, 31, placed in Cornton Vale prison, Chard and Ilminster News reports.
Cornton Vale is Scotland’s only all-female facility, near the city of Stirling.
She changed genders after being charged and was kept in solitary confinement while being housed at the jail.
Appearing before the Criminal Justice Committee on Wednesday, Scotland Prison Service chief executive Teresa Medhurst refused to disclose who made the final decision on where Bryson would be incarcerated.
"That decision, as I said earlier, was taken by headquarters," she told Conservative member of Scottish Parliament Jamie Greene, according to Sky News.
When she was further pressed on who was responsible for the controversial decision, she said: "I’m not at liberty to say."
She added: "Normally, there are processes locally and processes nationally and people seek advice through… into headquarters."
Member of Scottish Parliament (MSP) Katy Clark observed that a multi-disciplinary assessment had not yet taken place at the time of Bryson's conviction.
The Labour MP did mention that the convicted rapist had changed gender after being charged.
"What we don't understand is why the individual was not transferred to Barlinnie and held in segregation there, pending the multi-disciplinary risk assessment," The MSP for West Scotland said.
She added: "We do need answers."
Join us at 9:00 am on SPTV https://t.co/9HCKmZpdW5 as @KeithBrownSNP & @scottishprisons give evidence on transgender prisoners. We’ll also consider changes to Parole Board rules, and correspondence on policing and mental health, virtual trials & access to court transcripts pic.twitter.com/LztktC4YZJ— Criminal Justice Committee (@SP_Justice) February 22, 2023
When asked if she deemed it 'appropriate' to house the offender, who had been found guilty of raping women twice, in a women's jail, the Scotland Prison Service Chief Executive declined to elaborate on her feelings on. the matter.
"It's not a simple process and at the point of time where someone is making a decision on the location of an individual, they will have extremely limited information and make the best decision at that time, given both the circumstances and our policy position," Medhurt said.
She added criminals come to the prison service from the court system 'without a lot of information'.
Medhurt said that the sharing of information between the two departments could be improved.
Scotland's Justice Secretary said prison processes were followed and there were no female inmates 'at risk of harm as a consequence of the management of [Bryson]' because she was in solitary confinement, the BBC reports.