Transgender woman in PA prison speaks out
From Miley Selena Fletcher
August 24th, 2020
Marienville, Pa. 16239
The following is an edited version of a letter received from an incarcerated trans woman at State Correctional Institution Forest in Pennsylvania:
I am a transgender woman forced to live in an all-male institution around transphobic male inmates, guards and staff. It is a sad environment. It does not discriminate when it comes to transgender women — white, Black, Spanish, Indian, Asian in a male institution. You are hounded by not only the male inmates, but also the guards and staff and abused physically and sexually.
It’s a “witch hunt” against transgender women incarcerated in male institutions. I was denied going to a female facility and told it was “because of what I did at the State Correctional Institution at Chester, located in Chester, Pennsylvania.”
At SCI Chester, I spoke up on protecting women and the lack of security at that institution under Superintendent Ms. Lamas. If you do not know Ms. Lamas, she is responsible for the rape of a woman employee at the SCI Rockview by a sexual predator inmate.
By NO means was Lamas ever prosecuted or lost her job. As a superintendent (warden) at Rockview, she was told by the woman employee that the male inmate was stalking her. The woman employee ended up being captured in her office, knocked out, then raped.
Superintendent Lamas stated to the media: “She knew what she was getting into working in an all-male prison institution.” Instead of being fired, losing her pension or facing criminal charges, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections gave Lamas the superintendent job at SCI Chester.
At SCI Chester, 90% of employees are women. They wear fancy wigs, dress in tight clothing and walk as a woman should. As a trans woman at SCI Chester. I questioned why a psychologist called me into her office, tucked way in the back of the program service building, when no one was in that building but her and I. So I wrote and reminded the PA DOC about the Rockview incident.
In retaliation, the PA DOC had me locked up and transferred immediately [to SCI Forest] — only because I questioned a security violation by SCI Chester’s security and placed Lamas as an unprofessional who has no concern for the safety of women under her custody, care and control. When I brought this into the light, I was being who I am [as] “a woman.” I did not feel safe there under Ms. Lamas’ custody, care and control.
When [Corrections Classification Program Manager] C.C.P.M. Mr. Gustafson here at SCI Forest told me, “You were denied to go to a female institution because of what you did at SCI Chester. The PA DOC denied it for those reasons.” I looked at him and said, okay, that’s fine. I know as a woman what I did was right.
Women at SCI Chester came to my cell thanking me for bringing that up even though they couldn’t. They feared losing their jobs if they brought it up. Ms. Lamas told me, “They know when they come to work what they’re getting into. They don’t need your opinion.” I told her no! It makes your jobs much harder to deny if it does happen here.
I was transferred to a maximum security all-male institution SCI Forest. I live on a special needs unit (SNU). As a transgender woman, I am still in a male institution, where men can intimidate me, hit me if I say no to them that I won’t date them and be mentally, physically and sexually abused.
Transgender people incarcerated face unique extraordinary vulnerabilities in prison: risks of physical, sexual assaults and harm. According to the National center for Transgender Equality — which conducted a survey of nearly 30,000 transgender people in the United States — transgender inmates in the general prison population are ten times as likely to be abused by other inmates and five times likely to be abused by staff.
When I speak up or complain about a legitimate situation, this is what happens to me. So am I right, or am I wrong? What is next?
SCI Forest has no problem placing transgender on population blocks. I am on a SNU block, but for how long before the unit team gets tired of me? I already told them ahead of time, “If you place me on another block, I will be forced to take self lock-up protected custody.”
I am not going to go through the abuse by inmates or staff in this institution. I feel safe being on the SNU at this time until I can be accepted to go to a female/women’s facility. I do hope that this brings light to your understanding of how transgender women are treated. I also hope that you may write the PA DOC and question why I was turned down due to what I did at SCI Chester.
Miley S. Fletcher
Note: To contact the PA DOC about this situation reference Eric Wolfgang / Miley S. Fletcher, BZ-2211 SCI Forest and email [email protected].