WA Rep: Bill to protect women inmates, transgenders ‘going nowhere’
GOP State Representative Cyndy Jacobsen (R-Puyallup) has co-authored a bill that proposes if someone’s been convicted of certain sex crimes against women, they cannot be housed in the general population of women.
“I just fear that we are so worried about being politically correct that we won’t take a hard logical look at things because this is not a politically correct issue to bring up, and I don’t want anybody to be unsafe,” Jacobsen said on The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.
“The bill has gone nowhere … because maybe it is a political hot potato,” Jacobsen explained.
Rantz points out that it is a transgender issue as well.
“We’ve got some transgender folks who are going into prisons that do not correspond to their biological gender,” Rantz said. “Of course, that poses some significant issues, not just safety issues for the inmate, but safety issues for the people who are currently in jail.”
Jacobsen told Rantz that she had heard a story on KIRO Newsradio’s Dori Monson Show where he discussed that there had allegedly been some transgender inmates who were in the general population of women’s prison. She heard the story of a woman who was developmentally disabled and had been raped.
Jacobsen said that the story prompted her to write a bill (House Bill 1233) that she believes will help protect both women in prison and people who have been convicted of certain sex crimes.
“That’s all the bill says. It doesn’t reference anyone, transgender anything,” Jacobsen explained. “After I co-sponsored the bill, there have been some public records requests from the Tacoma News Tribune, from KIRO, and from some individuals asking for aggregate data on how many people are in the prison system who are identifying as a gender that is different than their biological gender.”
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Jacobsen said the Department of Corrections would not give the information out. “Because transgender folks are subjected to more risk of rape and are protected under the Washington State Consitution, they issued an injunction against releasing the aggregate information.
“If we have transgender individuals, we need to respect and care for them just as much as anybody else.”
“It seems pretty obvious. It’s a safety issue,” Rantz said.
Jacobsen argued that because of this, the public doesn’t really know if transgender people are being housed in prisons that do not match their biological identity, putting both of them, and possibly, the inmates in prison, at risk.
“We know anecdotally this is happening because I’ve heard directly from the Department of Corrections telling me,” Rantz said. “I don’t know how many times it’s happening. And that is an important part of this conversation. To me, at least I read them not wanting to give this information out as indicating that it’s happening more often than we think.”
Jacobsen said passing the bill is a long shot in a Democratically-controlled house.
“We’ll see what happens as we go down the line in the session. I’m a team player,” Jacobsen said. “And usually, we try very hard to make a vocal opposition. And we do the best we can. So I could be convinced to play hardball if that’s what the team was doing.”
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