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Trans rapist Isla Bryson will not be imprisoned at all-female jail – Sturgeon

Bryson raped two women when she was a man.

26 January 2023

A transgender woman convicted of raping two women will not be imprisoned in Scotland’s only all-female jail, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The Scottish First Minister addressed the issue as the row continued over where Isla Bryson, 31, from Clydebank, should be imprisoned after being found guilty of two rapes carried out when she was a man.

It had previously been understood that Bryson was being held at Cornton Vale women’s prison outside Stirling while awaiting sentencing.

But during First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood on Thursday, Ms Sturgeon was clear Bryson would not be imprisoned there.

Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Isla Bryson will not be imprisoned at Cornton Vale (PA)

She said: “It would not be appropriate for me, in respect of any prisoner, to give details of where they are being incarcerated.

“But given the understandable public and parliamentary concern in this case, I can confirm to Parliament that this prisoner will not be incarcerated at Cornton Vale women’s prison.

“I hope that provides assurance to the public.”

Concerns had been raised about the safety of other women in the jail if Bryson was placed there, with Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross challenging Ms Sturgeon on the case.

He asked the First Minister: “Should a convicted rapist ever serve time in a women’s prison?”

Ms Sturgeon said in the case of Bryson, a risk assessment is being carried out by the Scottish Prison Service, adding that “in general, any prisoner who poses a risk of sexual offending is segregated from other prisoners, including any period of risk assessment”.

Cornton Vale prison
Cornton Vale is Scotland’s only all-female prison (PA)

The First Minister was also clear that “there is no automatic right for a trans woman convicted of a crime to serve their sentence in a female prison”, stressing each case is “subject to rigorous individual risk assessment” in which the “safety of other prisoners is paramount”.

It came as Bryson’s estranged wife, Shonna Graham, 31, claimed her former partner’s transition was a “sham for attention” and that she is attempting to fool the authorities.

Ms Graham told the Daily Mail: “Never once did he say anything to me about feeling he was in the wrong body or anything.

“I have a lot of sympathy for real transgender people, it’s a hard thing to live with, but he’s just bullshitting the authorities.”

She also accused Bryson of being abusive in their relationship.

During the court proceedings, Bryson claimed she knew she was transgender at the age of four but did not make the decision to transition until she was 29, and is currently taking hormones and seeking surgery to complete gender reassignment.

She said that in 2016 she was “struggling with my sexuality and having issues emotionally”.

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