FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 29, 2022
City Council Members Keith Powers, Carlina Rivera, and Tiffany Cabán Introduce Legislation To Protect Incarcerated Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming, and Intersex New Yorkers
This bill codifies protections within New York City’s criminal justice system
New York, NY – Today, City Council Members Keith Powers, Carlina Rivera, and Tiffany Cabán introduced legislation bolstering protections for transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex New Yorkers within our city’s criminal justice system. As New York works to reform its jail system, this bill will address critical housing needs for transgender individuals in New York City jails while giving the Board of Corrections more oversight over the process.
“No one should be forced into housing that is inconsistent with their gender identity—it’s as simple as that,” said Council Member Keith Powers. “This bill will ensure that transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex New Yorkers are not only protected, but treated with decency and care in our city’s jails. As violence against these marginalized communities only heightens, it’s past time we guaranteed gender-appropriate housing in custody.”
Recent reports find that the Department of Corrections routinely fails to properly protect, care, and support transgender, gender non-comforming, non-binary, and intersex individuals in New York City’s jails. As the CITY writes, transgender women are often processed into men’s jails, and many individuals are currently housed in units that are unaligned with their respective gender identity. This experience can be unduly traumatic on those in custody, and put them at risk of violence or self-harm.
This bill will fix this unfair, harmful process by requiring the Department of Corrections (DOC) to assess all incarcerated individuals for risk of sexual victimization at intake and when transferred between facilities, create an appeals process for individuals who requested specific housing based on their identities, and requires the Board of Correction to issue opinions regarding appeals requests related to gender identity.
“As Chair of the Committee on Criminal Justice, I am committed to fighting for better conditions for women and gender-expansive people within the City’s criminal legal system,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera. “Today, I am honored to introduce new legislation alongside Council Members Powers and Cabán to ensure that transgender, gender nonconforming, and intersex New Yorkers in custody are connected to gender-appropriate housing. It is a small step, but a critical step toward centering humanity in a system that is so severely lacking.”
“In the best of cases, Rikers Island is a hellhole of misery and despair, where torture is standard and death is routine,” said Council Member Tiffany Cabán, Co-Chair of the LGBTQ Caucus. “There is absolutely no reason the city should be intensifying the violence even further by forcing people into housing that is inappropriate for their gender. Ultimately, we need to decarcerate Rikers Island, demolish the jail, and invest in the economic and social stability of the neighborhoods to which currently-incarcerated New Yorkers will return, but in the meantime, we absolutely owe our transgender, gender nonconforming and intersex neighbors in DoC custody a guarantee of gender-appropriate housing.”