Well, this is fucking horrifying.
There’s a 16-year-old transgender girl of color, Jane Doe, being held in a women’s prison in Connecticut.
No charges have been filed. She’s being held indefinitely. She’s in solitary confinement for 22-23 hours per day.
She does have a history of violent behavior, but that doesn’t make her unusual for a teenager who’s been in state care for years and who’s endured many more years of physical and sexual violence by a wide variety of people she was supposed to trust.
Make no mistake, this girl’s violent behavior is easily explained by her history of victimization. She hasn’t gotten the mental health care she needs to respond non-violently to perceived threats, and she’s certainly not getting that care in the adult women’s prison.
As Adrian Weibgen points out, surely DCF could do better with this girl:
The official story is that Jane endangered other youth in DCF’s custody, and Katz had no option but to send Jane to an adult prison. We do not underestimate the difficulty of managing the competing needs of the youth in DCF’s care, especially since many of these young people, like Jane, have been victims of violence and sexual abuse and exhibit trauma-responsive behaviors as a result. But the fact that the job is a difficult one does not mean that Connecticut should settle for less for Jane or any other child in need. […]
DCF’s job is to care for all children, and many of the children DCF cares for struggle with outbursts of violence. So why is Jane Doe the only child in fourteen years DCF has sought to have transferred to an adult prison? Transphobia may be part of the answer. DCF previously placed Jane in a facility for boys, then petitioned the court to have her transferred to Manson, an adult male prison facility. Jane is now at a women’s prison, but that is the result of a decision by Department of Corrections (DoC), not DCF.
Is it possible that Jane is the most dangerous young person DCF has seen in fourteen years? Maybe. Or maybe DCF just needs to believe that she is, because believing otherwise would mean acknowledging that it is the system that has failed Jane, and not the other way around.
There is much to support this latter point of view. Jane has provided many details of her sad and disturbing history of sexual violence, and although Katz alludes to the fact that Jane “suffered horrible abuse before she entered the care of the DCF,” Katz fails to acknowledge that this abuse occurred while Jane was in DCF’s care, too. […]It is difficult to imagine another young woman being repeatedly raped while in DCF’s care, only to be locked in prison for being too “dangerous.”
Weibgen also notes the justice system’s history of treating queer and trans women of color as especially violent and dangerous. Look up CeCe McDonald, for example. Transphobia doesn’t just mean putting a trans woman in a men’s prison, it means prosecuting and imprisoning a trans woman for an act of self-defense. Jane Doe isn’t even an adult, and because she’s still a juvenile, she’s being kept in isolation in compliance with a law that says juvenile prisoners must be kept from any interactions with adult inmates.
I think it would be better if she just weren’t in an adult prison.
Did I mention the state has filed no criminal charges on this girl?
They shunted her off to a secure facility without a trial.
Jane Doe wrote a letter to Gov. Malloy, in which she says she feels “forgotten and thrown away.”
Yeah, I can see how she’d have that feeling.