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Mistaken for a Man, Woman Spends 2 Days in Wrong Jail

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By Omar Fekeiki
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 22, 2007

A woman was held for two days this month in a men's jail in the District where officials mistook her for a man, officials said.

Authorities could not confirm Friday whether the woman, identified as Virginia Grace, 47, had shared a cell with men or showered while she was in the U.S. Marshals Service's central cellblock in downtown Washington.

Grace had been arrested July 14, police said, and was charged with drug possession and failure to appear in court for a sexual solicitation charge filed in April.

The misidentification was revealed Monday when Grace was transferred to the D.C. jail and required to submit to a body cavity search, a routine procedure when processing male prisoners, according to the D.C. Department of Corrections.

Grace, originally from the Dominican Republic, is also known as Virginia Soto, according to court records.

Corrections officials said the incident is under investigation. In a statement, they said every document the jail received concerning Grace -- police reports, court documents and the prison transfer report -- indicated she was a man. "In all of her criminal processing up to the point of DOC custody in this case, she was addressed as a male," the statement said.

Corrections officials would not comment further about processing procedures. Beverly Young, a spokeswoman for the department, said in an e-mail that the department cannot "disclose information about its internal operations as it may pose a security threat."

Staff writer Jenna Johnson and staff researcher Meg Smith contributed to this report.

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