Ammiano Introduces LGBT Prisoner Safety Act in California Assembly, Out in Sacramento, February 24, 2009.

Sacramento – The LGBT Prisoner Safety Act, AB 382, was introduced in the California State Assembly this week by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D – San Francisco). The bill, sponsored by Equality California (EQCA), is designed to prevent violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the state prison system. According to a recent study from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 67 percent of LGBT inmates report being sexually assaulted by another inmate, a rate 15 times higher than the overall prison population.

"All Californians deserve protection from violence," said Geoff Kors, EQCA Executive Director. "This bill seeks to end abuse and assault against LGBT prisoners, ensuring they receive equal and fair protection under the law."

The legislation promotes safety for and prevents abuse and assault against LGBT people in the prison system by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the current list of factors that should be considered when classifying and housing prisoners. The current list of factors includes age, gender, 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 was developed as a direct result of 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, 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.

EQCA works to achieve equality and secure legal protections for LGBT people. To improve the lives of LGBT Californians, EQCA sponsors legislation and coordinates efforts to ensure its passage, lobbies legislators and other policy makers, builds coalitions, develops community strength and empowers individuals and other organizations to engage in the political process.

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