21 Dec 2012

Transgender prison decision 'a breach of rights'

6:18 am on 21 December 2012

A justice lobby group says a transgender criminal's human rights have been breached by being sent to a men's prison.

A judge at Whangarei District Court on Wednesday sentenced Glen Cooper to a reduced prison term, because of the likelihood of harassment in a men's jail.

The court heard Cooper had already been attacked in jail while awaiting sentence.

The Department of Corrections said Cooper has not had sex change surgery so must go to the men's prison.

The director of the organisation Rethinking Crime and Punishment, Kim Workman, says that approach is wrong.

"Certainly it's a breach of human rights and it just puts that prisoner at considerable risk but also they're going to probably be segregated which is not of their making, it's something that's imposed on them."

Mr Workman says a facility that caters for transgender people is required.

Prison reformer Peter Williams QC says the Department of Corrections is failing in its job of keeping prisoners safe as a big proportion of jails are now controlled by gangs.