Information about transgender prisoners

Sophie Buchanan made this Official Information request to Department of Corrections

The request was refused by Department of Corrections.

From: Sophie Buchanan

Dear Department of Corrections,

I would like to put in an Official Information Request regarding transgender prisoners, particularly trans women (people assigned a male sex/gender at birth who are in fact female/women).

Does the DoC keep records of trans prisoners, their numbers, which prisons they are put into, and the reasoning behind where they are placed? If so please provide any statistics and/or other information which can be disclosed regarding current and former trans prisoners. If the DoC keeps no records on this, why not?

Additionally, are there procedures or practices in place to ensure the safety and health of trans prisoners? Please disclose current practice around treatment and care of trans inmates. If there are no policies around this, why not?

Finally, are records kept regarding the rates of assault, abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, mental), self-harm, suicide, mental illness, physiological illness, and death of trans prisoners? If so, please disclose that information, and the comparative rates of assault, abuse, self-harm, suicide, depression, illness, and death among cisgender prisoners. If the DoC does not keep these records, why not?

Nāku noa,

Sophie Buchanan

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From: Info@Corrections
Department of Corrections

Thank you for contacting the Department of Corrections.  This is an
automatic reply to let you know that we have received your email.  

Our website, [1] provides up to date news and
information about the work of the Department of Corrections.


If you are requesting information about an offender or prisoner, please
note that we are required to comply with the Privacy Act 1993, the
Official Information Act 1982 and the Victims Rights Act 2002.


This means that unless you are the victim of a serious crime, or there are
other safety reasons, we must ask the prisoner or offender if they consent
to their information being released to you.  If you do not want the
offender to know that you are asking about them, please send us another
email and let us know.


If you are a victim of serious crime, you will find information about the
Victim Notification Register on our website:


If you are a friend or family member of an offender, you will find useful
information on our website:



If you are looking for information about managing offenders in the
community, visit:


If you are looking for information about managing offenders in prison,


Once again, thank you for contacting us.  We will respond to your query as
soon as we are able.  Please note that due to the high volume of emails we
receive, it may take us some time to respond to you, however every effort
will be made to comply with the timeframes outlined in the Privacy Act
1993 and the Official information Act 1982.


Kind regards,

[6][Department of Corrections request email]



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From: Info@Corrections
Department of Corrections

Attachment C71774 OIA Response to S Buchanan.pdf
286K Download View as HTML



Please find attached correspondence from the Department of Corrections. 





Ministerial Services Team

National Office

Department of Corrections

Mayfair House

44-52 The Terrace

Private Bag 1206

Wellington 6140




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Emmy Rākete left an annotation ()

These motherfuckers are trying to dodge your question. Try getting back to them and specifying for trans prisoners *presently* in prison. The idea that this information would be too much work to get hold of is completely outweighed by our right to know how many trans people are presently in conditions of... like, unimaginable danger, administered by the DoC.

Also, Sophie, if you wanted to get in touch with me, I'd love to talk.

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Mark Hanna left an annotation ()

Shawn Moodie from the New Zealand Human Rights Commission has given some advice on Twitter about what can be done about this refusal:

"We suggest asking Corrections to review the decision & if still unsuccessful contacting the Ombudsman"

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Thomas Roberts left an annotation ()

The ombudsmen will side with Corrections. People need to understand that not every single thing is recorded in nice, neat little spreadsheets.

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Sophie Buchanan left an annotation ()

It is in the public interest for the administrators of the public prison system to collate this information into "nice, neat little spreadsheets", rather than keeping bad records that obscure bad stats.

I have complained to the ombudsman and they are processing it. Just in case they do side with the DoC on this, I have also clarified my request and broken it down into four simpler questions based on the information the DoC gave about the limitations of their current records and their reluctance to do any work to them.

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Thomas Roberts left an annotation ()

Yawn, they aren't hiding anything. Trust me, they would love to have a easily accessable electronic record management system that would enable them to keep track of every little niche demographic in data warehouses that actually work as they should.

Sadly, unless you are personally willing to fork out for it, they have more important things to spend their limited (which are getting more limited by the year) budgets on.

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Sophie Buchanan left an annotation ()

Thank you for your encouraging and pro-transparency annotations, Thomas.

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Matthew Whitehead left an annotation ()

Looking over the response, this is definitely not a dodge. You can generally tell by the attempts to give you related information or clarify the situation when the response has taken your request seriously, and DoC have actually provided you with a lot of information regarding the intent of your request. It does sound like management have policies in place for transgender prisoners, (although perhaps not for intersex prisoners?) but that they haven't updated their information systems to generate specific reports on transgender prisoners.

Getting an update on information systems is an extensive project, and while it's often necessary, if they've explained why they don't have the information in a collatable format, they've done their job in responding to the request. In an ideal world every department would keep their data in easy amendable warehouses and could design a quick query for any type of information... but often they use proprietary software that can't easily report on certain data, don't have the resources to update their database, or keep paper records on certain matters.

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Things to do with this request

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