FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 7, 2009
CONTACT: Vaishalee Raja, Equality California
PHONE: 916-284-9187 EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
LGBT Prisoner Safety Act Passes Key Senate Committee
Bill Sponsored by EQCA and Introduced by Ammiano Now Moves to Senate Appropriations Committee
Sacramento -- The Senate Public Safety Committee passed the LGBT Prisoner Safety Act, AB 382, today in a 4-2 vote. Sponsored by Equality California (EQCA) and introduced 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 study by UC Irvine commissioned by the Department of Corrections and Re-habilitation, 69 percent of transgender inmates report sexual victimization while incarcerated.
"The terrible abuse of and assaults on LGBT prisoners in California must stop," said Geoff Kors, Equality California executive director. "Everyone deserves to be protected from violence."
By amending the Sexual Abuse in Detention Elimination Act (SADEA) of 2005 to include self-reported safety concerns related to sexual orientation and gender identity on the list of factors for consideration when classifying and housing prisoners, the legislation promotes safety for and prevents assault against LGBT people in the prison system. The list of factors currently includes age, 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 developed following 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. The bill recently passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee unanimously by a 7-0 vote.
To find out more information about EQCA's legislation, visit http://www.eqca.org/legislation.
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
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