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Crime

Trans woman was considered ‘suicide risk’ in male prison before death

Caroline Seddon December 8, 2015

Transgender prisoner Joanne Latham was treated as a ‘suicide risk’ inside a male prison and subjected to regular checks before she was found dead.

An inquest has begun into the suicide of Joanne Latham who was serving a life sentence for three attempted murders at the all-male HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes.

According to the BBC, the inquest heard that a day before her death on November 27, Latham was identified as being ‘at risk’ and put in a locked cell, where she was observed every half an hour..

Coroner’s officer Mel Riley told the court: “During the night he covered the cell observation panel with a J Cloth and barricaded the door. He responded verbally to the 3:30 AM and 4:00 AM checks but not the 4:30 AM check.”

Officers were then called to break into the cell where they found the prisoner hanged. She was pronounced dead  at 6:20 AM.

Earlier in the same month, 21 year old trans prisoner Vicky Thompson was found dead after threatening to kill herself if sent to a male prison in Leeds.

The deaths have caused the UK government to order a broader review of the treatment of trans prisoners.

Former prisoner Tara Hudson has joined the call for a change in law  – after a public pressure campaign that saw 150,000 people petition to have her moved from the HMP Bristol to the female HMP Eastwood Park after she expressed fears for her safety and being raped.

In an interview with the BBC, she said of the deaths: “My heart dropped because I knew what those two girls went through, I would have done the same I think.”

Of her experience at the all male prison she added: “I had a lot of men trying to get me to show my breasts, I’d seen a lot of violence – it was very, very scary.

“I thought I was going to get attacked, I thought I may be raped.”

Despite still being legally treated as male as she has no gender recognition certificate, Hudson has lived as female for over half a decade.

Latham was still in the early stages of her transition and whilst she was recognised and addressed by her female name at the prison, the inquest is being held in her male name of Eddie at the request of relatives.

Coroner Tom Osborne adjourned the case. A pre-inquest hearing will be held on February 2.

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More: Crime, dead, death, Joanne Latham, LGBT, Politics, prison, prisoner, Trans, Transgender

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