|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
August 25, 2010
CONTACT: Vaishalee Raja, Equality California
PHONE: 916-284-9187 EMAIL: vaishaleeATeqcaDOTorg
California Legislature Passes Bill Protecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Prisoners
Equality California-sponsored bill requires state to adopt rape prevention standards and promotes prisoner safety
Sacramento – The California State Senate today passed the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Prisoner Safety Act, AB 633, in a 26-9 vote. Sponsored by Equality California and introduced by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), the bill is designed to prevent violence against LGBT people in the state prison system.
“Too often, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender prisoners are the victims of violence behind bars,” said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California. “This important bill would help prevent brutal assaults against prisoners who are targeted due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The bill would require California to adopt the National Prisoner Rape Elimination Commission Standards, which were created by a bipartisan panel that studied the issue nationally. It would amend 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. This list of factors currently includes age, type of offense and prior time served. The bill would also save the state money due to decreased litigation and healthcare expenses.
A recent study from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) found that 67 percent of LGBT inmates report being sexually assaulted by another inmate, a rate 15 times higher than the overall prison population. Another study by UC Irvine and commissioned by CDCR found that 69 percent of transgender inmates reported sexual victimization while incarcerated.
“All people deserve basic protections — including those serving time in our state prisons,” said Assemblymember Ammiano. “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.”
AB 633 was developed following a Senate Public Safety Committee meeting held in San Francisco in December 2008 that was chaired by Senator and former Majority Leader Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles). The meeting, which was sponsored by Equality California along with Just Detention International, the Transgender Law Center, the 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 bill now moves to back to the Assembly floor for a procedural concurrence 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 and transgender rights advocacy organization in California. Over the past decade, Equality California 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. Equality California has passed over 60 pieces of legislation and continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org