Transgender prisoner was found dead in male jail
from various sources – February 2016
submitted by – Danielle Roberts
Updates on this case will be listed at the foot of this item
Joanne Latham, 38, was found dead inside her cell at HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes on Friday 27 November. Joanne was a transgender woman being held in an all-male high security prison. According to reports, Joanne who had recently changed her name from Edward Latham, was being held on a Close Supervision Centre and was receiving regular 30 minute checks.
Joanne was concerning the prison officers at around 4.02am on Friday 27 November. She had responded to prison officers call’s from 3:30am check to 4:00am. However, she failed to respond to the 04:30am call. She had barricaded her cell door and the observation panel was covered. After the officers failed to receive a response from her, they were granted permission to enter the cell.
Paramedics were called to the cell at approximately 05:40am. There were attempts at resuscitation but these were unsuccessful and were stopped at around 06:00am. Joanne was pronounced dead at approximately 06.20am.
In 2001 Joanne, convicted under the name Eddie, was given a life sentence after attempting to murder a flatmate by lacing a glass with mercury. Later in 2007, whilst being held at HMP Frankland in County Durham, Latham attempted to murder another prisoner. As a result of this she was awarded another life sentence.
During 2011 Joanne was being treated at Nottingham’s Rampton psychiatric secure hospital. It was here that Joanne, again, tried to murder another patient. She was sent to trial for this offence and was found guilty by jury and was punished to another life sentence.
The Close Supervision Centre also known as the CSC is used to house up to 60 of the most dangerous inmates.
HMP Woodhill’s CSC have been criticised on several previous occasions for the high rate of self-harm committed by the inmates. There was an inquiry in 2011 regarding an extremely violent incident. Throughout the inquiry it was found that an inmate was allowed to slice off his ear just 3 months after slicing his other ear off.
It is believed that Joanne had not requested a transfer to a women’s facility. Despite this fact, if Joanne had applied for a transfer she would not have been eligible. As there are no women’s Close Supervision Centre.
It was also reported by the BBC that Joanne went through phases regarding her gender according to a prison guard.
Coroner Tom Osborne asked prison officer Debbie Glyde whether the inmate had serious intentions to change gender. She replied that she “could not say because he went through phases”.
Joanne’s death follows that of Vicki Thompson who was also a transgender woman serving her sentence in an all-male jail. Due to the fact that there have been two deaths of transgender individuals in such quick succession, it suggests that there is an issue with the transgender population and where they serve their punishment.
Baroness Barker told the House of Lords that “placing transgender women in all male prisons was dangerous”.
She also stated that, “Prisoners should be housed in the estate of their acquired gender in the first instance, and only moved to the other estate following a thorough investigation that has ruled out all other safe alternatives”.
As a result of these tragic deaths in custody, the Government has revealed that they will be reviewing the policies involving transgender prisoners. They have also added that they will be looking at gathering figures on transgender prisoners for the first time.
There will be an investigation into the death of Joanne. This is mandatory as with all deaths in state custody and will be completed by the Independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman.
The inquiry was adjourned to 2 February 2016.
Transgender prisoner Joanne Latham was ‘at risk’
8 December 2015
Second transgender prisoner found dead in male jail
1 December 2015
Transgender inmate found dead in Woodhill prison cell
1 December 2015