CJ Palmer, the trans woman who was convicted of grievous bodily harm for transmitting HIV, has been sentenced to serve six years in a men’s prison.
The sentence, with includes a non-parole period of four years, was handed down in Perth on Friday, OutinPerth reported.
Palmer has already served over 300 days in a high-security men’s prison and currently does not have access to necessary hormone treatment.
Judge Stevens acknowledged that the sentence was predicated on the understanding that Palmer would continue to receive hormone treatment while in prison, though Palmer’s lawyer states that this has not been the case so far.
Advocates had expressed concern prior to sentencing that Palmer was not being given adequate treatment in the male facility, including not providing appropriate clothing or grooming tools.
Palmer is also expected to complete her sentence in what is essentially solitary confinement.
Nic Holas, co-founder of HIV advocacy service The Institute of Many, said on Twitter that his “heart is broken” over the ruling.
Speaking to OutinPerth, Holas said, “The criminalisation of people living with HIV is a blunt, ineffective tool in the war to end HIV. It only serves to drive people who need to be tested and treated further into the dark and creates a cultural fear.”
“In this particular instance, as with so many cases, an overwhelming majority of cases of HIV criminalisation, we have two people here who are victims and those people are victims of the ongoing stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV.
“I think this is an absolute miscarriage of justice for a six year sentence, I think it’s completely excessive, and I along with many people in the community have deep, grave concerns for CJ’s health and wellbeing – especially since she’s been denied her hormone treatments,” Holas said.
“We welcome the indication from Judge Stevenson that this extremely heavy sentence is basically on the condition that she will keep receiving her hormone treatments.
“That is the only silver lining on what is a very dark day for every single person living with HIV in this country, as well as the transgender and sex worker communities. We need an overhaul of criminalisation of HIV in every state and territory in this country, including here in Western Australia.
“We need an overhaul of criminalisation of HIV in every state and territory in this country, including here in Western Australia.”
Jules Kim, CEO of sex work advocacy group Scarlet Alliance, called the sentence “manifestly excessive”.
“This is the problem with the prison system, it’s not equipped to deal with transgender people. Currently in the WA Prisons Act they only have provisions for men and women.
“There actually is no provisions for transgender people, because they don’t know where to put her she’s living in the crisis care unit of a men’s prison. She’s been living as a women all her life, she is a woman,” Kim said.
“Those within the community who are perhaps unaware of the advances in medical treatment for HIV may think that with a sentence of 6 years, justice has been served,” said David Kernohan, CEO of the WA AIDS Council.
“What about the educative aspect of justice? What skills does a woman learn during 4 years in a male prison? What programs are in place for a woman in a male prison that will assist her re-integration into the wider community once the 4-year period is over?”
putting trans women in male prisons is violence. that it necessarily equates to years spent in solitary confinement is violence. denying trans women access to hormones is violence and CJ’s sentence is an unbelievably excessive, potentially traumatising miscarriage of justice
— a (@allisongallaghr) February 16, 2018
Here are a few things that we need to get onto immediately:
1. Lobby the prison to get CJ’s hormone treatment in her hands, now.
2. Start writing letters to CJ in prison to show her some support. Info to follow. https://t.co/6R2RRBprgm
— Nic Holas (@nicheholas) February 16, 2018
Including time served, CJ Palmer will be eligible for parole in 2021.