Trans prisoner with indeterminate sentence takes own life on day of London Trans Pride

A transgender prisoner at HMP Eastwood Park in Gloucestershire took his own life, on the same day at London Trans Pride (9 July).

Taylor was housed in a women’s prison, despite living openly as a trans man, and was held on an Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence, which is indeterminate.

IPP sentences were introduced in the UK in 2005, “targeted at serious offenders who, although they were thought to pose an ongoing risk to public safety, did not merit a life sentence”.

An IPP sentence means that the prisoner serves a minimum time in custody, after which they can only be released in a parole board agrees that this is safe.

This can mean that prisoners are kept behind bars for far longer than their initial crime indicates.

IPP sentences were abolished in 2012, but not retrospectively for those who had already been given them. According to the government, as of September 2021, there were 1,661 offenders continuing to serve IPP sentences in prison, having never been released.

In a call to action following Taylor’s death, published by the Bristol Anarchist Black Cross, his friends wrote: “Taylor is dead. He was pronounced dead in prison at 10.37pm on Saturday 9 July… He was meant to be on suicide watch but the prison failed him.

“We were informed by the prison governor at 3.30am on Sunday. His cell has been sealed by police and we await news of the autopsy. We will announce news of his funeral in the coming days and weeks.”

Taylor’s friends described his IPP sentence as a “death sentence”.

“He was given four years for burglary but served 14 years before he died,” they explained.

“The long-term imprisonment with no end date totally destroyed Taylor’s mental health. He attempted suicide multiple times… It eventually killed him.”

“Death became the only option for Taylor as all legal doors to freedom closed again and again,” they added.

Despite long struggling with his mental health, Taylor was heavily involved in activism from prison, working with anarchist groups, and the organisation Smash IPP, to help others in similar situations.

HMP Eastwood Park has been plagued by allegations of abuse in recent years, and Taylor’s friends allege that as a transgender prisoner, he was also subjected to homophobic and transphobic abuse by both inmates and staff.

According to Taylor’s friends, there is an upcoming inquest and Prisons and Probation Ombudsman’s report into his death.

But, they wrote: “The inquest and the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman’s report will not achieve ‘justice’.

“Prisons are working exactly as they are designed to… We call for rage everywhere. Remember Taylor. Fight with everything you have for those still in prison. No more empty slogans, this is a life and death struggle.”

PinkNews has approached the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman for comment.

Suicide is preventable. Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org), or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). ​

Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255.

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