Yesterday, Connecticut's Office of the Child Advocate issued a public statement criticizing the state Department of Children and Families for its handling of 16-year-old transgender girl Jane Doe.
Proir to being transferred to a school for delinquent boys earlier this month, Doe spent more than two months in an adult women's prison without being charged with a crime.
"DCF issued a July 13, 2014, public statement about a July 12 incident at the Pueblo Unit — a locked girls' juvenile unit at [Connecticut Juvenile Training School] — affirmatively singling out Jane Doe's behavior, as yet uninvestigated or charged by police, for public dissemination," reads the statement from the Office of the Child Advocate. "It was announced that it was transferring her to the boys' unit at CJTS, where she would again be isolated. The public shaming of Jane Doe — a victim of significant abuse and neglect — is also inexplicable in light of the fact that the July 12 incident involved four girls, all of whom were restrained, all of whom were described in DCF records as hitting each other and staff. One of the girls was restrained on five separate occasions during the same night — including being placed in hand cuffs and prone restraint — long after the initial incident had ended. No transfers were announced for any of the other girls involved in the incident."
The OCA's statement highlights a number of concerns about what kind of care children who have been placed in DCF custody receive, questioning the efficacy of the department's approach:
"The statistics and stories raise questions regarding the availability and efficacy of programming and clinical support to engage and de-escalate youth in crisis, the gaps remaining in the community mental health system, the potential for contagion effect between traumatized and reactive youth in institutional care, the continued and questionable singling out of Jane Doe for disparate treatment and public shaming by her guardian, and the urgent need for greater transparency in our multi-million dollar juvenile services system," OCA concludes.
In a statement made to the New Haven Register, DCF denied any wrongdoing, saying that the agency issued a press release to coincide with Doe's transfer as a result of "the extensive news coverage she has received over the past several months," and not as an attempt to single her out.
The OCA's statement marks the latest in an ongoing stream of criticism surrounding the way DCF has handled Doe's case, as activists have created a social media campaign using the hashtag #Justice4Jane, calling for an end to what they perceive as the criminalization of trans-feminine identities, bodies, and traumatic experiences.