Since last July, there are 29 women in the highest managerial role in prisons and social insertion centers, according to Penitentiary Institutions in their “commitment to the promotion of equality in the prison field”. This “equality” is put in doubt by the Ombudsman of Spain regarding some issues after his visit to one of the three exclusive prisons for women in Spain, located in Alcalá de Guadaíra (Seville). “The forms and lists are written in masculine, with reference to the ‘inmate’, making women invisible, their needs and rights,” they regret, alluding to a recommendation accepted by the prison administration two and a half years ago regarding inclusive language in the jails. On the other hand, it was found that occupational activities are only carried out in the women’s module, with no option for inmates in the open section or for those in the mothers’ module. “They are, however, occupational activities that are very limited, hardly stimulated and mainly related to sewing, a role that perpetuates gender stereotypes, and tile painting,” he points out.
A quarter of the women who enter prison in Spain will no longer have an exclusive penitentiary in Andalusia
Four technicians from the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture (MNP) of the Spanish Ombudsman and two external technicians (medical and psychologist) went without prior notice to the Alcalá de Guadaíra center on October 7, 8 and 9, 2020 in the framework of the project on visits to prisons with a gender perspective. During the meeting, the general living conditions of the inmates in the center, the treatment and health care provided, were examined, and individual and collective interviews were carried out with inmates, members of the management team and officials, as well as staff of the social and health services.
According to the visit report, contained in the annual report carried out by the institution in its capacity as NPM for the year 2020, “the documentation provided to the inmates upon admission, despite being an exclusively women’s center, lacks information adapted to the circumstances of women and inclusive language.” The Ombudsman made a recommendation “to give her place and name the female prisoner, made after the pilot visit of the project on visits to penitentiary centers with a gender focus (in the Antoni Asunción Hernández penitentiary in Picassent, Valencia, in November 2018).
“Denying its presence and peculiarities”
That recommendation was “accepted by the Administration but not carried out so far, not even in prisons for women only such as Madrid I (2019) or Alcalá de Guadaira (2020). This persistent non-inclusive language of those who have public responsibility is striking. to translate constitutional values such as equality into something as simple as forms and records that acknowledge the presence of women in jail, “says the report. “In all the visits made, it was found that the documentation provided to the inmates upon admission lacked inclusive language and information adapted to the circumstances of women, denying their presence and particularities, such as sexual and reproductive health or gender violence,” it was stated. Add.
The Penitentiary Administration argues in the report that “all documentation directed at female inmates is in feminine form and, likewise, modifications have already been made to the documents on prison classification” to “dispense with gender marking.” However, they acknowledge, “a large part of the documentation generated by centralized management computer tools continues to be in masculine form, since the modification of such applications does not depend exclusively on the will or technical competence of the personnel of this administration, but rather requires the assistance of external companies that must introduce in them the necessary changes for it “. In that sense, they point out that “in the next tender for the prison information system, such changes are planned and progress is being made in complying with this recommendation.”
This persistent non-inclusive language of those who have the public responsibility to translate constitutional values such as equality into something as simple as forms that recognize the presence of women in prison is striking.
Regarding occupational activities, there is a similar circumstance to Alcalá but in the Las Palmas II center, where “a sexist distribution was found in some of the courses: the course on cleaning surfaces and furniture in buildings and premises is carried out exclusively by women, and the courses in plumbing operations, domestic air conditioning and auxiliary painting operations are conducted exclusively by men, perpetuating gender roles. ”
Made a suggestion in this regard, the Administration replied that “it will try to encourage participation in the courses to influence the elimination of any sexist hint that may exist in access to training activities.” The NPM emphasized in reply that “the inmates are already encouraged, because in the numerous interviews carried out they demand their participation in workshops such as bakery or maintenance, in which none of them participate, and insists that, in reality, what is appropriate is the prior recognition of the difference, because without it the effective exercise of training under conditions of equality is not achieved “. It should be remembered that, last March, Penitentiary Institutions undertook to prioritize the access of women in prison to training and work activities.
Returning to the center of Alcalá de Guadaíra, the Ombudsman also denounces that “the variable of A Roma minority woman is not included in the data collection and statistics production. “It was found that there were 20 Roma women in the center, representing 20.4% of the inmate women. According to Penitentiary Institutions, it was considered pertinent to make minorities visible and to be able to make statistical elaborations on their presence in the prison population, in the computer tool that covers the manual of the social work procedure “it is planned to include, in the data collection, a section that refers to the belonging of the person to some type of minority (racial, ethnic, religious, etc.) with relevance in their social reintegration process. “It is noted that the effective implementation of the changes to be made in the evolution of the tool depend, within the framework of the current contract, of the company that has developed it.
Regarding the list of inmates with disabilities, twelve in this center, “it is not stated what type of disability – physical, mental, intellectual, sensory – or multiple disabilities affects them”, it is not included if they have a disability certificate, “there is not even a specific program or any entity that works with women with disabilities, unlike other prisons. ” Along these lines, the Ombudsman criticizes that “downtown architecture is not accessible, with significant architectural barriers and without any technical adaptation.” “Clearly, all the limitations mentioned above are an unattended aspect, they are not considered in a transversal way, nor in a specific way, with the consequent impact on the psychosocial health of women, which remains invisible,” he asserts.
On the other hand, it was found in the visit that “gender violence is not evaluated or addressed in an interdisciplinary medical, psychological and social way”, and “it is recommended to incorporate the evaluation of the history of gender violence in the different protocols and interviews semi-structured programs for the collection of psychosocial and health information “. Regarding this, the Administration informs that “the inclusion of a specific section that collects such information has been requested from the company that has developed the social work procedure computer tool, awaiting its effective implementation.” “In general, indications have been given to the centers so that all prison professionals who work with women have access to the ‘Viogen’ tool, also urging that such data be collected from women when collecting information psychological and health “.
Complaints from transgender people
Likewise, “an incorrectness was detected in the classification of the inmates considered as transsexuals “and” in the interviews carried out, the lack of training of civil servant, technical and health personnel, and the complaint of transsexual people about the lack of respectful treatment was again confirmed.
Likewise, the Ombudsman recommends developing in Alcalá the “Being a Woman” treatment program in all its dimensions, as it is officially designed in its number of sessions, topics addressed and evaluation, with a multiprofessional health, psychological, social and legal team and with community resources specialized in women, reflecting their relevance in the Individual Treatment Program for inmates. During the visit “it was found that the program, which on paper is extensive and proposes a process of raising awareness and addressing violence that affects women, is not adequately developed because it does not include all the parts that are necessary for its development. It is not evaluated, it does not have health professionals or lawyers, it lacks connection with community resources specialized in care for women, and it is not included in the Individual Treatment Program for women. ”
The central services replied that “it will be sought, as far as possible, to provide human resources to the centers that allow it and also, if the woman participates in it, they will be urged to expressly reflect it in the Individualized Program Treatment (PIT), prioritize its development and contacting specialized external resources for this purpose “.
Among other issues, it is also noted that in the Alcalá women’s prison “there are no specific programs to promote health and healthy life”, stating that “one of the prevalent health problems of women in this prison is addictions “, verifying” a high consumption of drugs identifiable as invisible addictions because they are prescribed drugs. ” Another “very frequent health problem” is the “lack of hygiene and physical and mental deterioration upon admission of the inmates when they enter after their stay in the police station cells.”
According to the Penitentiary Administration, some centers are already carrying out specific actions aimed at promoting women’s health or therapeutic alternatives have been implemented to reduce their consumption of medications to relax or fall asleep. ” Thus, the management of the Alcalá center will be urged “to study the implementation of such actions, resorting to the search for external resources that collaborate in this task with the professionals of the center”.
In Alcalá, in addition, “there is no evaluation or specialized psychiatric care.” Mental health care for women inmates in this specific center is carried out by the health team of the same which, if deemed necessary, calls on the specialist in psychiatry from the Andalusian Health Service and, likewise, by The psychology specialist at the center seeks, to the extent of their training and possibilities, to give due attention to the women who demand and need it “, argues the Administration.