A lawyer representing transgender prisoner Glen Cooper will
apply to the Parole Board to have have her released next
Cooper was sentenced to two years and one month jail after
pleading guilty to wounding with intent to injure on January
17 when she struck a man on the head with a wine bottle.
Judge Duncan Harvey said in recognition of the difficulties
Cooper would face in a men's prison he reduced the sentence
by 15 per cent. Another 15 per cent reduction was given for
an early guilty plea.
Lawyer Kelly Ellis had asked for a home detention sentence
but when it came to sentencing in the Whangarei District
Court on Wednesday no suitable address had been supplied to
Ms Ellis said when Cooper became eligible for parole in April
2013, as she had already been in custody waiting for sentence
since the beginning June, an application for release would be
Cooper was in the high risk unit in prison but would then
progress to segregation, Ms Ellis said. She did not consider
"Segregation isn't safe and while Corrections might say that
it is, I work on the basis of what my clients tell me."
A Corrections Department spokesperson would not comment on
Cooper's case specifically but said the placement of
transgender prisoners was done on a case-by-case basis.
Transgender prisoners were entitled to choose to be in a
single cell or to share a cell with other transgender
They were permitted normal mixing with other prisoners, but
could also request to be segregated.
The spokesperson said transgender prisoners would be moved to
a female prison if they had full sexual realignment surgery,
as there could be risks in placing anatomically male
transgender prisoners in a female prison.
However, Corrections agreed with the Ombudsman to review
whether the policy on the location of transgender prisoners
was appropriate to provide for their safety, care and
Legislation provides any prisoner who wanted to access
medical treatment that was not provided by Corrections or not
recommended by the health service could access treatment as
long as they were prepared to pay the cost.
The Green Party said the Government had several options to
ensure the safety of transgender prisoners.
"Having judges hand out reductions in sentences is not an
effective or sustainable solution," Green Party spokeswoman
on rainbow issues Jan Logie said.
"For the State to knowingly put any person in its care into
danger is inexcusable. There are solutions available and we
need to make changes to keep transpeople safe from violence
in New Zealand, including when they are in the State's
- Kristin Edge of The Northern Advocate