Thursday, November 14, 2013

Confusion over why woman ended up jailed with men

Authorities are investigating how a woman arrested for cocaine possession was arrested and incarcerated with men in a Miami-Dade jail. A medical nurse who examined Veloz Fior de Pichardo inside the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in Miami-Dade after her Nov. 4 arrest somehow came to the conclusion Pichardo was a man. One corrections form has an M in the block indicating gender, even though her arrest report lists her as a female. The nurse’s conclusion caused Pichardo to be placed in the general population with male prisoners, a decision corrections experts say exposed her to a real possibility of sexual abuse and violence.

In Pichardo's handwritten complaint to the corrections department, she says: “I feel offended because they have offended my integrity as a woman ...doubting me if I have changed my sex and (I) take off my clothes many times and ask me why I have done it." "(I'm) telling them no. (They're) causing my pressure to elevate, because I was taken to a male jail and I'm a woman. I had to enter the same bathroom. Nobody has abused me physically but psychologically yes," Pichardo said. Guards housed her with the male inmates at the Metro West facility near Doral.

As to how this could have happened, one investigating officer writes that: "inmate Pichardo was medically screened during the initial intake process. Due to inmate Pichardo's non-traditional male characteristics he is classified as a PREA (special cell) candidate. Pichardo was evaluated by medical staff nurse H. It was determined that ...Pichardo has male sexual reproductive organs." When the woman's family got word what was going on they showed up at the jail complaining and that caused supervisors to take a second look. A corrections report says, “Pichardo was evaluated by nurse D and nurse M at Metro West Clinic.

“It was determined by both nurses that inmate Pichardo is a female.” That was what Pichardo was telling guards and the medical staff all along. From her writings, the woman made clear to the guards here that she hasn't gone through any sex change procedures and the reports don't show them making any mention of Picardo altering her gender. The corrections department say it doesn't have anything to say about what happened as how a woman ended up in the men's bathroom at the jail is still under investigation. Pichardo was released from the Miami-Dade jail but is still in federal custody and is being held by US Marshals and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

With news video.

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