SRLP members, clients, and staff have a long history of speaking before the Board of Corrections (BOC) to bring the voices of trans, gender non-conforming, and intersex (TGNCI) people to the forefront of their work. The Board of Corrections is the oversight and enforcement agency of the NYC Department of Correction (DOC), which is the agency responsible for all NYC jails. We have previously rallied around the issue of limitations on visits, the creation of Minimum Standards that mirror the Prison Rape Elimination Act standards and make them specific to the NYC context, and ongoing issues of sexual violence in the NYC jails.
The Transgender Housing Unit (THU) is designated for transgender women but since its creation in 2015 has been housed in a men’s jail, misgendering and further endangering the women incarcerated there. Thanks to our members, clients, and coalition partners we had an enormous success this spring and summer when the THU was moved to a women’s jail, Rose M. Singer Center.SRLP will continue to work to enforce a new resolution from the Board of Correction that requires that the NYC Department of Corrections come into compliance with Minimum Standards for screening and safely housing all individuals – particularly TGNCI people.
SRLP is now teaching our classes on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month in the new unit at RMSC. We are still trying to reach out to any transgender or gender non-conforming person who hasn’t been placed into the THU. If you have a loved one currently held in a different facility please reach out to our Prisoner Justice Project for support.
What You Can Do:
Please spread the word to your loved ones in NYC jails of their right to be housed correctly and their ability to report any non-compliance to the Board. Loved ones can contact the Board by calling 212-669-7900 or filing a complaint online. You can also mail a letter to BOC at 1 Centre Street, Room 2213, New York, NY 10007 or fax them at 212-669-7980. Between 8am-4pm, Monday-Friday, you can also go in person to file at 1 Centre Street, Room 2213 in Manhattan.
You can read some of the writings from the old THU (in a men’s jail) in this blog post and more writing from the women in the new unit in this blog post. Keep checking out the PAC blog for more writings from the THU and our folks held upstate.
Throughout 2014, SRLP met with members of the NYC DOC and many local advocacy groups to shape a voluntary housing unit for transgender women and gender non-conforming people held in the men’s jails. This unit was the direct response to many of our members’ and clients’ requests for multiple safer options for housing. Our clients and members made it very clear that transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex people should be given the option to self-determine where they can be most safely housed within the violent structure that is incarceration.
Beginning in August 2015, SRLP taught classes twice a month in the THU with the LGBT Unit of the New York Legal Assistance Group. Through these classes – and through TGNCI people reaching out to us from the many other NYC jails where THUs are not available – SRLP was able to provide some monitoring of the treatment of our people in the city jails. We have consistently brought PREA standards, Directives, Board resolutions and more to the people in the unit to ensure that they know their rights and can successfully request what they need.