The Prisoner Justice Project at SRLP supports low income transgender people and transgender people of color involuntarily held in prison and jail obtain life-sustaining services. Because transgender and gender non-conforming individuals are disproportionately profiled and targeted by police for arrest, our communities are overrepresented in the criminal system. While detained, transgender and gender non-conforming individuals are targeted for sexual assault, repeated and unlawful searches, and prolonged segregation. The Project provides direct legal services to improve conditions of confinement and decrease the number of individuals held in prison and jail as well as providing systemic advocacy and education sharing to incarcerated individuals and support to attorneys, advocates, and loved ones on the outside.
Populations Served with Direct Legal Services:
The Prisoner Justice Project offers direct legal services to people in New York City jails and in New York State prisons. Due to our small size we are unable to offer assistance to people in jails outside of New York City or in federal prisons in New York State. We are also unable to offer direct legal services to people incarcerated or detained outside of New York State. While we can only offer legal services to people in New York City jails and New York State prisons, we see our work as connected to and informed by allying with those held in government custody.
Legal Services Provided:
The Prisoner Justice Project provides assistance in civil matters. We are unable to support with criminal cases or appeals of criminal cases. We are able to provide the following services:
- name changes to incarcerated individuals
- assistance with changing names on government documents while incarcerated
- assistance obtaining hormones
- assistance obtaining gender appropriate undergarments
- assistance preparing for parole appearances
- advocacy and support around sexual violence and violations of the Prison Rape Elimination Act
- advocacy and support around transfers and requests for alternate housing
- advocacy and support around conditions of solitary
- advocacy and support around mental health care needs and assessments
- obtaining correct sentence calculations
- review and appeal of disciplinary solitary confinement (Tier IIIs)
- other civil matters concerning conditions of confinement
The Prisoner Justice Project has partnered with other organizations to provide litigation services in the past, however, due to our size and the number of individuals we serve we are generally unable to engage in litigation.
Other Services Provided:
- Advocacy and Education sharing to build leadership of individuals in detention and incarceration. The project receives between 40-60 letters a month from incarcerated
transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex people who are held outside of New York. While we cannot provide direct legal services we respond to every single letter. Depending on the needs expressed in the letter we respond with general legal knowledge, knowledge about transgender and intersex identities, information that breaks down isolation and general support. Several incarcerated transgender, gender non-conforming and intersex activists have informed us that our support and resource sharing assisted them in changing the policies for transgender classification and care in their local, state and federal facility directives. Many incarcerated transgender, gender non-conforming and intersex activists have informed us that our letters gave them hope and a sense of belonging.
- Building Leadership with our Prisoner Advisory Committee (PAC). PACis made up of over 80 presently incarcerated transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex individuals who assist us in guiding the work, public education and policy priorities of the Project.
- Providing Support to attorneys, advocates, and loved ones. Please feel free to reach out to our current Director of the Prisoner Justice Project is you are representing a transgender, gender non-conforming or intersex individual who is currently facing the criminal system or is in prison.
- Providing Trans-Specific Legal Analysis to those in power. The Project is regularly asked to review and comment on work that would effect conditions and classification of transgender, gender non-conforming and intersex people in prisons and jails. Whenever possible we consult with our PAC and provide feedback. Recently, the Project has been very involved in work to drastically alter how the New York City jails operate. Some of our suggestions and demands to the New York City Board of Corrections can be read here.
News from the Prisoner Justice Project!
- Speak up against sexual violence at the Board of Corrections hearing (7/21/2016) - Thank you to those who came out to the membership meeting on Tuesday at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project to prepare for Board of Correction (BOC) hearing! We were so grateful to be able to listen to everyone’s innovative suggestions for making NYC jails safer for trans, gender non-conforming and intersex (TGNCI) folks. If you weren’t able […]
- Leaving Trans Women out of the Women and Criminal Justice System Convening (4/9/2016) - To mark the end of Women’s History Month, Attorney General Loretta Lynch issued remarks at the White House Women and the Criminal Justice System Convening Wednesday, March 30. Her remarks stand out for mentioning and specifically addressing transgender women caught inside the Criminal Justice System. Yet naming transgender women without inviting them to […]
- SRLP Members Help HALT Solitary in NYS Prisons (4/8/2016) - On any single day about 4,000 people are held in solitary confinement in New York State prisons. This is a fact that Marci, a member of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project’s Movement Building Team, knows all too well. Having survived solitary confinement herself, Marci is now joining a group of advocates on April 12 […]
- Reducing Sexual Violence on the Road to Abolition (3/29/2016) - Next Monday, April 4, SRLP is thrilled to be joining survivors, loved ones of survivors and advocates in the beginning of a campaign to address sexual violence and sexual harassment in the NYC jails. Around this time last year SRLP, along with other allied organizations and New York City’s Public Advocate Letitia James, submitted […]
- Trans Voices Raised At Public Hearing (10/23/2015) - Last Friday, members of the SRLP Movement Building Team and Prison Advisory Committee shared their stories and personal concerns regarding rules pending before the Board of Correction. Staff and members testified before the Board and spoke out at a rally before. SRLP staff is so honored to work with members who share their stories […]
- SRLP’s Submission of Comments and Recommendations in Response to the Proposed Rulemaking Addressing Visitation, Packages, and Solitary (10/23/2015) - Below is the testimony submitted by staff attorney Mik Kinkead on behalf of Sylvia Rivera Law Project at the Board of Corrections hearing on October 16, 2015. Re: Submission of Comments and Recommendations in Response to the Proposed Rulemaking Addressing Visitation, Packages, and Solitary Dear Chair Brezenoff and the NYC Board of Correction: The […]
- SRLP spoke up against solitary confinement and limitation on visitation rules at BOC hearing (10/18/2015) - On Friday, October 16, SRLP staff and members, including India, Natalia, Olympia and Xena, along with our allies such as the Jails Action Coalition, attended a Board of Corrections hearing to speak up against the Department of Correction’s attempt to increase the use of solitary confinement to over 30 days and its attempt to curtail visitation […]
- Stop Harsh New Restrictions on People in NYC Jails and Their Families! (9/25/2015) - The NYC Department of Corrections seeks to change rules to limit visitation and packages in NYC jails, which would negatively impact the conditions of those who are incarcerated and their friends and families. SRLP and many of our organizational friends and allies such as the Jails Action Coalition placed pressure on DOC’s governing body (the Board of Correction) to not vote on […]
- SRLP Members and Staff Oppose Visitation Changes in NYC Jails (9/22/2015) - The Sylvia Rivera Law Project was proud to join the Jail Action Coalition and its partner organizations for a rally and press conference on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday September 9. SRLP staff and members went out in 90 degree weather to protest the tightening of visitation and package restrictions on Riker’s and […]
- SRLP’s Prisoner Justice Project Assists in Keeping #EyesOnRikers (9/8/2015) - The Prisoner Justice Project (PJP) at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) has a long history of providing legal and supportive services to our transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex communities in state prison, and we have recently been able to focus even more of our efforts on our communities held in New York City jails. […]