Edward Brown / Joanne Latham

Silhouette image via Wikimedia Commons

Edward / Joanne Latham, (aka Edward Adam Brown) a violent male who identifies as a trans woman, was convicted in 2001 of attempting to murder a female friend, Sarah Smith, and sentenced to life in prison. Latham was then given another life sentence in 2007 after trying to kill another prisoner at HMP Frankland in County Durham. Then in July 2011, while at Rampton secure psychiatric hospital, Latham tried to kill another patient by stabbing him in the neck and consequently received another life sentence.

Latham, then aged 24, met the first victim while receiving psychiatric treatment at the Chesterfield Royal Hospital in December 2010 and attempted to murder her by pouring mercury from a thermometer into her drink.  At sentencing Judge John Hopkin, said: “It is apparent you are a person of unstable character and are dangerous.”

While housed in the close supervision centre (CSC) of HMP Woodhill in summer 2015 (a unit reserved for the most dangerous and/or vulnerable men in the prison system) Latham reportedly began identifying as a woman named Joanne. Prisoners held in the CSC system have usually committed further serious violent offences while in prison and exhibit dangerous and disruptive behaviour that is too difficult to manage in an ordinary prison location. In October 2015, five officers had to be present to unlock Latham’s cell due to previous threats made against staff.  As there is no necessity for a CSC system for women in the UK, Latham would not have been eligible for transfer to the women’s estate, nor was any request submitted. The prisoner had a long history of self harm, violence and making threats against prison staff if demands were not met. Staff assessed that there was a risk that Latham might attack someone at any time, with the intention of killing them or causing serious harm.

Latham, then aged 38, was found unresponsive on the morning of Friday 27 November 2015. Staff at HMP Woodhill and paramedics attempted resuscitation but Latham was pronounced dead at 6.20am. A post-mortem examination concluded the prisoner had died from hanging and the inquest ruled the death as suicide. The independent Prisons & Probation Ombudsman report (published after all deaths in prison) stated that Woodhill had appropriately supported Latham regarding transitioning and that the guidelines in Prison Service Instruction 7/2011 on transgender prisoners had been followed. 

Prisons & Probation Ombudsman report on the death of the prisoner http://www.ppo.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/L215-15-Death-of-Ms-Joanne-Latham-Woodhill-27-11-2016-SID-31-40.pdf#view=FitH

Media reports: 

Metro http://metro.co.uk/2016/09/20/transgender-prisoner-killed-herself-in-male-prison-after-make-up-brush-delay-6139967/

Yorkshire Post http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/life-for-man-who-tried-to-poison-friend-1-2412749

BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/derbyshire/4460544.stm

Nottingham Post http://www.nottinghampost.com/convicted-attacker-wins-right-appeal/story-20713966-detail/story.html

Worksop Guardian http://www.worksopguardian.co.uk/news/crime/attempted-murder-trial-1-4820793

Sky News http://news.sky.com/story/transgender-prisoner-found-dead-in-jail-cell-10337549

The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/dec/01/second-trans-prisoner-joanne-latham-apparently-takes-own-life-in-male-jail