Transgender inmate wins apology from NZ corrections minister
New Zealand's Corrections Department will apologise to a transgender prisoner following a revelation her transfer request went nowhere when a staff member went on leave.
Jade Follett has been moved from Rimutaka Prison to a women's facility after a protest group raised her plight in the media.
Corrections initially said it only received her transfer request this past weekend, however the Corrections Minister has since looked into the situation and found it was made much earlier.
"Both my officials and I read with concern that an earlier application had been made by Jade. Their enquiries with Jade have concluded that she handed a written request for consideration to be transferred to a women's facility on 29 June 2015 to a Corrections Officer," Sam Lotu-Iiga states in a letter to Green MP Jan Logie.
"This was in turn given to a Principal Corrections Officer who subsequently went on leave. I have been advised by my Corrections Officials that this letter does not appear to have been forwarded to prison management for processing."
Lotu-Iiga says he is concerned about the situation and his officials are looking into how the process broke down. He says Prison Director Chris Burns will apologise to Follett, and his own officials are looking into how the process broke down.
"I expect them to implement some changes to strengthen the process as a result."
Under a policy which came into effect earlier this year, transgender people who haven't formally changed their gender on their birth certificate can apply to be placed in a prison which matches their gender identity.
The change was made due to the concerns about the safety of transgender women in men's prisons, where lawyers and advocates say trans women are facing rape and violence.