Prisoner Safety Act Passes California Senate

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Vaishalee Raja, Equality California
916-284-9187 vaishalee@eqca.org

Prisoner Safety Act Passes California Senate

Bill expands protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender prisoners

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - 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.

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Equality California is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to achieve equality and civil rights for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians.

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