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Prisoner Safety Act Passes California Senate
Bill expands protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender prisoners
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - September 3 - The state Senate today passed the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Prisoner Safety Act, AB 382, with bipartisan support in a 23 to 14 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.
"The Senate has sent a strong message today that all Californians deserve protections from abuse and violence," said Geoff Kors, Equality California's executive director. "This essential bill will help end the horrific assaults against LGBT prisoners, ensuring they receive equal and fair protection under the law."
According to a study by UC Irvine commissioned by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 69 percent of transgender inmates report sexual victimization while incarcerated.
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 assaults 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, 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 LGBT Prisoner Safety Act is an important step toward ensuring the safety of this highly vulnerable population.
The bill must next return to the State Assembly for a vote to concur in amendments made in the Senate. It will then head to Governor Schwarzenegger's desk. To find out more information about EQCA's legislation, visit www.eqca.org/legislation.