ABC share story of WA transgender woman’s prison experience

The ABC has shared the experience of Western Australian woman Mara Ellis who has recounted her experience of spending several months being locked in a male prison.

The major report from the national broadcaster includes a 40 minute audio report from Background Briefing, alongside a digital story, and news reports. In the story Ellis shares her personal experiences while the reporters look at the different guidelines, or lack of them, in different Australian states.

Ellis recounts that when she was sent to WA’s Hakea Prison she was segregated from other prisoners, but it meant she spent 23 hours of her day locked in a cell. Overcrowding in WA’s prison saw vulnerable prisoners being treated the same as violent offenders, locked in solitary confinement.

When she first arrives in the prison she needs be strip searched by four prison guards, two female guards for her upper body, but male guards for her lower body. Later she is told that she will be placed among the mainstream prison,allegedly as punishment for a confrontation with guards. Her account goes on to include threats of sexual assault, intimidation and threats of violence.

The Western Australian Department of Corrections have admitted that their current policies and procedures are not ideal, but say they have been working on a better policy for several years now, and expect to have it completed by November 2020.

It’s a powerful report from the ABC’s Meghna Bali. Earlier this year another case was from Western Australia was highlighted in the media, where a transgender man was given a home detention sentence rather than being sent to a women’s prison.

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