FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 31, 2009
CONTACT: Brian Richardson, firstname.lastname@example.org
EQCA's LGBT Prisoner Safety Act Passes Committee by Unanimous Vote
Bill to Prevent Violence Against Vulnerable Population Advances in Assembly
Sacramento -- The LGBT Prisoner Safety Act, AB 382, came one step closer to becoming law today, passing the Assembly Public Safety Committee with a unanimous 7-0 vote, winning the endorsement of the entire committee including five Democrats and two Republicans. Sponsored by Equality California (EQCA) and introduced last month by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D -- San Francisco), the bill is designed to prevent violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the state prison system.
According to a recent study from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 67 percent of LGBT inmates report being sexually assaulted by another inmate, a rate 15 times higher than the overall prison population.
"All Californians deserve protection from violence," EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors said when the bill was first introduced. "This bill seeks to end abuse and assault against LGBT prisoners, ensuring they receive equal and fair protection under the law."
By amending the Sexual Abuse in Detention Elimination Act (SADEA) of 2005 to include sexual orientation and gender identity on the list of factors that should be considered when classifying and housing prisoners, the legislation promotes safety for and prevents abuse and assault against LGBT people in the prison system. The current list of factors includes age, gender, type of offense, and prior time served.
"All people deserve basic protections -- including those serving time in our state prisons," Assemblymember Ammiano said upon introducing the bill. "No prisoner should fear for his or her life or be the target of abuse because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity."
The bill was developed as a direct result of a Senate Public Safety Committee meeting held in San Francisco this past December and chaired by Senator and former Majority Leader Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles). The meeting, which was sponsored by EQCA along with Just Detention International, the Transgender Law Center, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Transgender Gender-Variant and Intersex Justice Project, exposed the dire issues facing LGBT people in California prisons in order to produce concrete solutions. The LGBT Prisoner Safety Act is an important step toward ensuring the safety of this highly vulnerable population.
Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender-rights advocacy organization in California. In the past decade, EQCA has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for LGBT individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive civil-rights protections in the nation. EQCA has passed over 50 pieces of legislation and continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org