New York City's jails will now house inmates by their preferred gender identity, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.
What are the details?
De Blasio announced that the city's Department of Corrections is working with the NYC Commission on Human Rights to ensure the safety of transgender New Yorkers.
"It’s the city’s responsibility to protect the rights and safety of all New Yorkers, and that means protecting transgender individuals in city jails as well," de Blasio said in a statement. "New York City is one of the first major cities to commit to taking this step, and it’s crucial to ensuring all our facilities are welcoming and safe for all New Yorkers, no matter their gender identity."
According to the statement, the Department of Corrections plans to implement the policy within six months, and de Blasio pointed to Executive Order No. 16, which he signed in 2016 requiring that all city entities allow individuals to use single-sex facilities "consistent with their gender identity, without being required to show identification, medical documentation, or any other form of proof or verification of gender."
On Monday, de Blasio tweeted, "In New York City, we believe transgender rights are human rights. And we'll fight to protect those rights in city jails as well."
In New York City, we believe transgender rights are human rights. And we'll fight to protect those rights in city jails as well. https://t.co/S3YL4Wimnu
— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) April 16, 2018
Inmates housed by the Department of Corrections would also utilize the Transgender Housing Unit, which was established in 2014.
The statement noted that New York City is one of the first major U.S. cities to house inmates sorted by gender identity.
According to AM New York, "there are 26 individuals in custody who self-report as transgender, and one individual who self-reports as gender nonconforming."
What are others saying?
Department of Corrections Commissioner Cynthia Brann said, "The department is committed to safely housing inmates in a way that considers an individual’s transgender identity and maintaining a humane and safe jail system for all New Yorkers."
Carmelyn P. Malalis, Chair and Commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights, said, "Housing incarcerated individuals consistent with their gender identity is not only about dignity and respect but an important recognition of the unique challenges and vulnerabilities transgender and gender nonconforming individuals face in corrections facilities nationwide."
Anne Rettenberg, a psychotherapist and feminist told The Christian Post that the news concerns her, specifically with regard to the safety of female inmates.
"It's not a safe place to put biological males in with females, biological males who, at the very least have been charged with a crime serious enough not to allow them to be released on their own recognizance," Rettenberg said. "We're talking about potentially violent criminals.
"Someone is eventually going to get raped," she added. "Statistically it's going to happen at some point."