Special treatment: Incarcerated gay inmates get private wing in LA jail

The Los Angeles County Men’s Central Jail proudly offers unique programs and services for its inmates- or at least for those inmates who are gay, bisexual, or transgender. Approximately 400 inmates who do meet that criteria reside together in Block K-6G.

An inmate in Block K-6G explained to CBSLA.com that “it is a community of acceptance and support.” Erica Anderson, the transgender inmate pictured below, is serving time for a parole violations and drug use. She told CBS how she “got to learn how to love myself here.”

lajail

Gay and transgender inmates were first segregated in the 1980’s after a lawsuit by the ACLU seeking to protect them from physical violence. But the segregation has led to having its “own rules and its own culture.” One inmate describes his incarceration experience as “embracing individuality.” Isn’t that something of an oxymoron?

The GBT Wing was described by one sheriff as “safer” than the general population, leading to a situation where straight inmates want to gain admission to 4-6G.

Inmates seeking the safer haven have to “prove” they are not heterosexual through an interview process where they are asked questions about their life – like experiences with gay bars, clubs or magazines.

“Correct” answers might get an inmate special programming and services in Block 46G, while “wrong answers” keep them in the general population which is fraught with violence from gangs and racial tensions.

This author can only quote The Kinks – “It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world…”

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Lonnie K. Martens

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