Jac­inta re­leased from male pri­son

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS - NI­CHOLAS MCELROY

A TRANS­GEN­DER pris­oner has been re­leased from a male jail six months af­ter a drug-fu­elled of­fend­ing spree which ended on the Gold Coast.

Jac­inta Ma­son, 37, pleaded guilty in the South­port Mag­is­trates Court on Thurs­day to a slew of prop­erty, drugs and bail of­fences com­mit­ted over an eight-month pe­riod.

The court was told Ma­son had lit­tle rec­ol­lec­tion of of­fend­ing, which spanned from Septem­ber 2017 to April this year, hav­ing been un­der the in­flu­ence of drugs.

Ma­son’s spree of 21 of­fences ended when caught steal­ing bis­cuits from the Queens­land Coun­try Women’s As­so­ci­a­tion hall at Mer­maid Beach on April 24.

“She was on drugs at the time and she says she was happy to be ar­rested,” said Le­gal Aid de­fence lawyer Vered Turner, who added that Ma­son had worked for the first time in about a decade while be­hind bars.

How­ever, Ms Turner said Ma­son’s time in cus­tody at Arthur Gor­rie Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre at Wa­col was also dif­fi­cult, be­ing a pre-op­er­a­tion trans­gen­der woman in a male pri­son.

Mag­is­trate Louise Shep­herd said she took this into ac­count in sen­tenc­ing.

“You are a pre-op trans­gen­der woman and I imag­ine that would bring many dif­fi­cul­ties and stresses in your life,” Ms Shep­herd said.

“In the six months in cus­tody you have done that time in a male pri­son, and I as­sume that brought its own dif­fi­cul­ties for you and I take that into ac­count.”

Ma­son was given an 18month pri­son sen­tence but al­lowed pa­role on Thurs­day, and or­dered to pay about $800 in resti­tu­tion.

Aus­tralian Trans­gen­der Sup­port As­so­ci­a­tion Queens­land pres­i­dent Gina Mather said pre-op­er­a­tion trans­gen­der women al­ways went to male prisons.

“You go to jail (ac­cord­ing to) the gen­i­talia be­tween your legs,” Ms Mather said.

“We have girls in pri­son now and even though they might look like Madonna they still have the gen­i­talia and they still have to go to the male pri­son.

“We can’t change that, what we have done is try to iso­late them in pro­tec­tive cus­tody.”

Ms Mather said a lot of progress had been made by Queens­land Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices in re­cent years but called for sep­a­rate ar­eas in­side men’s prisons so trans­gen­der women could be part of the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion dur­ing the day and be safe at night.

She said iso­lat­ing trans­gen­der women from the gen­eral pri­son pop­u­la­tion could feel like fur­ther pun­ish­ment.

“We would like the girls to have a small wing of their own. It would be nice to have an area where they can ac­cess the main­stream pop­u­la­tion while hav­ing the safety of their own area.”

A judge said Jac­inta Ma­son spend­ing six months in a male pri­son would have brought “many dif­fi­cul­ties and stresses in your life”.

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