The San Francisco County Jail will allow transgender inmates to be housed by their gender preference.
Announced on Thursday by Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, the first part of a two-phase policy will allow transgender women being housed in a men’s facility to participate in programming at a women’s facility.
“The high majority of municipal jails and prisons in this country make invisible, suppress or isolate inmates who are transgender,” Mirkarimi said in a statement. “The driving reason is for their protection. However, this practice comes at a dehumanizing cost, often resulting in abuse and high recidivism rates due to in-custody and post-release neglect.”
Once staff goes through new training, the transgender women will be able to start opportunities such as taking women empowerment classes, “which are paramount to reducing recidivism and to helping offenders successfully re-enter their communities,” according to the Office of the Sheriff.
The Los Angeles Times reports that current transgender inmates are housed in an isolated wing of the jail facility and that there are currently six transgenders in the San Francisco facilities.
San Francisco Deputy Sheriff’s Association President Eugene Cerbone told The Huffington Post: “I will not support a safety issue where you’re going to have men who still have their genitalia tell me that ‘Oh I’m female’ just so they can get in the female unit.”
The full implementation of integration is set to take place by the end of 2015.
The new policy will have an advisory review board for the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department to look at transgender inmates on a case-by-case basis. The decision will take into consideration more than whether or not the inmate has undergone gender reassignment surgery.
The board will review how long the individual has lived in his or her preferred gender when determining the right fit for housing.