Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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Gay Prisons versus Straight Prisons

Since when do American prisons (some? all? I have no idea how many) routinely maintain segregated prison cells for gay convicts and straight convicts? I've never heard of such a thing, yet I came across this sentence stating it plainly at the end of an Associated Press article: "County jails segregate gay inmates from other inmates, keeping them in separate dormitories." (From the article "ACLU Claims Gay Inmates Abused in Los Angeles Jail.")

This raises some awfully disturbing questions in my mind. How do they determine who's "gay" and who's "straight"? Do they adhere strictly to a policy of taking everybody's word for whatever their preference is? What if, as we've all heard is known to happen, one prisoner commits rape or attempted rape of another prisoner, in the "straight" dormitory? My suspicion is that such a prisoner would be relabeled "gay" and moved into the "gay" dormitory. Then what happens? The gay prisoners are put at higher risk of being raped, and the prison authorities probably find it all the easier not to bother making any effort to prevent rape, based upon the all-too-common heterosexual belief that "since they're all gay, they're not really going to mind." This also puts the gay prisoners at higher risk of HIV infection as well, turning temporary prison terms into death sentences.

How did this policy get instituted in the first place? Did the prisons claim it was being done for the gay prisoners' own protection? Why was there no public discussion of it that could have made me aware of it before now? Why is there still no apparent public criticism of it? The article is only about the ACLU complaining about specific abuses, and says nothing to indicate that anybody but me suspects that segregated prison dormitories may be a contributing factor in the abuse. Do any of you know how common this segregation is, or when it first began to be instituted?
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