A troubled transgender girl detained in the Connecticut adult women’s prison for two months without criminal charges was moved Tuesday, June 24, to a psychiatric center for children following an outcry by her supporters.
Department of Children and Families Commissioner Joette Katz said the 16-year-old girl was relocated to the Albert J. Solnit Children’s Psychiatric Center, a DCF-run facility in Middletown. The teen had been detained at the York Correctional Institution, the state’s only women’s prison.
The girl’s lawyer and supporters protested her detention in the prison, saying she was being held in solitary confinement that was causing her more psychological harm. The girl has been traumatized by a history of neglect and severe sexual and physical abuse, said her lawyer, Aaron Romano. DCF officials denied the girl, known to the public only as Jane Doe, was being held in solitary confinement.
The teen had been in DCF custody before being sent to the jail. DCF officials said she was too violent for them to handle and asked a state judge to transfer her into Department of Correction custody as authorized by a seldom-used state law. The judge approved the request in April.
“All along we’ve said that jail was inappropriate for Jane and we’re pleased with this move,” Romano said Tuesday. “It’s not perfect, but it’s not jail.”
Romano said DCF officials have promised to continue looking for a foster family for the girl. DCF, meanwhile, still plans on placing her in an undisclosed private youth treatment center in Massachusetts, where she has been accepted for treatment. That move is pending final approval.
“Given the progress Jane Doe has made, we are convinced that this interim step of placing her today in our program for girls in Middletown is a more appropriate place for her than the adult York Correctional Institution,” Katz said in a statement. “This certainly has been a difficult ordeal for Jane Doe, and I am hopeful that she will continue to heal from the very traumatic experiences she has suffered.”
Romano contested Katz’s statement that Doe made progress in prison.
“It shocks the conscience that the commissioner makes a claim that jail serves a therapeutic purpose for a child,” he said.