The Countess published our first policy paper on 16th June 2023, titled “Gender and Sex in Irish Prisons”. This is the culmination of 3 years of research by our Working Group on Prisons. It takes an in-depth look at Ireland’s female prison population, their rates of offending, the nature of their crimes and their conviction rates. There is a particular focus on the impact on female prisoners of housing trans-identified males among them and how this changes the day to day management and dynamics of women’s prisons. Since our inception in 2020, one of our primary concerns has been the plight of the women in Limerick Prison, where two convicted male sex offenders are housed in the women’s wing.
The Countess has also drafted a legal amendment to the Gender Recognition Act 2015, and we hope to bring this Bill to a vote in the Dáil (Gender Recognition (Amendment) (Prisons) Bill 2023).
This policy paper sets out the theoretical framework behind that amendment.
We have submitted this policy paper to the Irish Prison Service, with the recommendation that the following 3 measures – based on UN guidelines for the treatment of prisoners – should be implemented to stop this human rights violation. We hope the IPS will take these recommendations into account in the development of their new policy for the treatment of transgender prisoners:
- Prisons should be segregated by biological sex, in line with the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Mandela Rules).
- The Gender Recognition Act 2015 must be suspended or amended whilst a fuller debate takes place which addresses this unforeseen consequence of the Act
- Until such time as the Gender Recognition Act is amended, prison policy should explicitly state that biological male prisoners will be searched by male prison guards, OR, alternatively,
screening methods such as scans should be developed to replace strip searches or invasive body searches.