A transgender women held on remand at a men’s prison in Doncaster on a charge of attempted murder has been found hanged in her cell.
Jenny Swift, 49, was found dead at HMP Doncaster on 30 December, just over a month after being remanded into custody at the Category B men’s prison, The Star reports.
Swift was taken into custody at the prison on 17 November after being charged with stabbing 26-year-old Eric Flanagan at a property in Doncaster two days earlier.
She was charged with attempted murder, but following the death of Mr Flanagan on 15 December, the case was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service, who were looking to upgrade the charge to murder. It had not been changed by the time of Swift’s death.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice confirmed the department was aware that Swift was transgender when she was placed at HMP Doncaster, and revealed that an investigation into the case is under way.
“Self-inflicted deaths are a tragedy and mental health in custody is taken extremely seriously,” they said in a statement. “We have a range of measures already in place to help support prisoners suffering from these issues.
“But we recognise more can be done. That is why we have allocated more funding for prison safety and have launched a suicide and self-harm reduction project to address the increase in self-inflicted deaths and self-harm in our prisons.”
A friend of Swift, who wished to remain anonymous, claims that Swift, who had been taking female hormones for three years, had asked to be put into a women’s prison following her arrest, and that she did not receive hormones while in prison.
“She kept asking for the hormones and they said she would get them but she never did,” the source told The Star.
“Jenny said that not having them was making her legs shake, making her feel sad and ill – she said it was like coming off drugs. It made her miserable.”
Currently, trans women can still be placed in male prisons if they are unable to provide legal recognition of their gender, leading to many who identify as, have lived as, or present as female, being placed in the wrong prisons.
Swift’s death comes just two months after a government report into the treatment of transgender prisoners concluded that inmates should be housed according to their gender identity.
“It’s a travesty that this is still happening,” says author and Attitude columnist Juno Dawson. “We should be mindful of the family of the victim, Eric Flanagan. However, Ms Swift lived as a woman and should have been incarcerated in a women’s prison.
“The Ministry of Justice, while it continues to incarcerate trans people in the wrong prisons will continue to get blood on its hands. This is gross negligence.”
An inquest into Swift’s death is expected to be opened shortly. The inquiry into Mr Flanagan’s death remains ongoing.