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LGBT prisoner safety bill passes crucial assembly committee

(SACRAMENTO) The California State Assembly Committee on Public Safety yesterday passed the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Prisoner Safety Act, in a 6-0 vote.

Sponsored by Equality California (EQCA) and introduced by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), the bill is designed to prevent violence against LGBT people in the state prison system. The bill was vetoed by the Governor last year but was recently reintroduced.

“We must put an end to the brutal assaults LGBT prisoners so often face,” said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors. “Passing this bill would be an important step toward preventing violence against LGBT prisoners and ensuring they have access to the same safeguards under the law as other inmates. We have already started discussions with the Governor's office about why this bill is needed and why the current procedures are not working. We are hopeful he will reconsider his position and sign the bill if it passes this year.”

According to a recent study by UC Irvine, 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," 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."