A B.C. Supreme Court justice has rejected a bid by a transgender inmate to be returned from a male prison back to the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women in Maple Ridge.
But the court has ruled that BC Corrections should at least give the decision a second look.
Haedyn Patterson has been in prison since 2014, awaiting extradition to the U.S., and was transferred out of Alouette on Aug. 14 following a “violent incident,” according to a ruling issued Dec. 10 from New Westminster Supreme Court.
Patterson initially had been jailed in Surrey Pretrial Services Centre, but, in September 2018, was transferred to Alouette Correctional Centre for Women, after she told B.C. Corrections she identified as female.
Both Alouette correctional centre and Surrey Pretrial have the capacity to house transgender inmates.
After being moved back to Surrey Pretrial in August, Patterson sought to have the transfer reconsidered and also asked to be transferred to Okanagan Correctional Centre, which houses both men and women.
Justice J. Iyer found some justification in the inmate’s complaints, noting that BC Corrections didn’t provide a written explanation for its decision to transfer Patterson to Surrey – until almost two months after the move.
That, in turn, prevented Patterson from later properly applying for reconsideration of that decision, according to the judgment.
The judge said it was procedurally unfair for Patterson not to receive the written reasons for her transfer until two months after the move.
“Procedural fairness required that Ms. Patterson be provided with written reasons for the transfer decision promptly, or if not, with an explanation for any delay,” the judge wrote.
“‘As soon as practicable’ does not mean whenever correctional authorities choose,” said the judge.
The judge noted that the delay affected Patterson’s ability to make a case for “reconsideration” of her transfer.
Patterson, on Sept. 25, formally requested reconsideration of the decision to send her to Surrey, writing that she was concerned about being sexually harassed or sexually assaulted in the male institution.
She also addressed the conduct that led to the transfer, “acknowledging her responsibility for it and committing to change her behaviour,” said the judgment.
However, the judge points out that BC Corrections decided against reconsideration of the transfer without getting a copy of Patterson’s Oct. 12 submission, in which she disputes BC Corrections’ claim that she was not taking transgender medication.
She had filed the Oct. 12 submission only after finally receiving the reasons for her move.
Patterson said she only paused that medication on the advice of a specialist and that she had resumed taking it and invited BC Corrections to check with her doctor.
“The compound effect of these errors is that the reconsideration decision was procedurally unfair,” the judge wrote.
She concluded that while the decision to move Patterson to Surrey was reasonable, it was part of the actual decision-making process that wasn’t fair.
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She told BC Corrections to again reconsider the transfer.
BC Corrections said in a statement Monday that it is reviewing the ruling.
“No decision about an appeal or other courses of action have been made at this time.”