Statement on San Francisco Sheriff’s Plan to Move Transgender Women into Daytime Programming in the Women’s Jail

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prison_smSAN FRANCISCO, Calif.—Today, San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi announced that he is implementing a policy that will allow transgender women to receive programming in the women’s jail. Although the women will participate in classes, job training, physical recreation, and other programs in the women’s jail during the day, they will remain in the men’s jail during the evenings and overnight.

Several local organizations that have been working on these issues with the Sheriff’s Office for more than two years released the following statements:

“Our number one priority is to take care of our sisters who are housed in prisons and jails,” said TGI Justice Project Executive Director Janetta Johnson. “This policy is a step in the right direction, but our community as a whole has to do a lot more to keep these women out of jail in the first place and to make sure that transgender women of color, in particular, can live safely and freely.” [pullquote]“Unfortunately, while this policy addresses the need of transgender inmates to have equal access to programming, it does not offer an adequate solution to the dramatically increased risk of sexual assault transgender women in prison face. To truly address sexual and physical assault of transgender detainees, San Francisco must institute policies that bring the city into compliance with the National Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Standards, which require a case-by-case assessment for placement that prioritizes safety.[/pullquote]

Transgender Law Center’s Detention Project Director Flor Bermudez added: “Unfortunately, while this policy addresses the need of transgender inmates to have equal access to programming, it does not offer an adequate solution to the dramatically increased risk of sexual assault transgender women in prison face. To truly address sexual and physical assault of transgender detainees, San Francisco must institute policies that bring the city into compliance with the National Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Standards, which require a case-by-case assessment for placement that prioritizes safety. The Sheriff has assured us he intends to allow transgender women to be housed in the women’s facility. We will continue to work with his office to ensure that transgender women are safe and able to be housed in the women’s jail for all purposes and not just for daytime programs.”

“There is no question that moving these women to the women’s jail will improve their daily lives,” added National Center for Lesbian Rights Senior Staff Attorney Amy Whelan. “This is only a first step, though, and there is a lot more that we must do to ensure that San Francisco is a leader when it comes to criminal justice issues.”

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. 

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