A proposed law in New York could allow mentally ill male inmates to assume a non-male identity and be granted access to women’s prisons, according to a women’s advocacy group.
Yesterday, the New York Senate added an amendment to Senate Bill 2860, euphemistically called the “gender identity respect, dignity and safety act,” that would allow male prisoners to be placed in a correctional facility or other institution that matches their self-determined “gender identity.” According to the women’s advocacy group, these “other institutions” added to the bill likely include psychiatric facilities for the criminally insane and possibly high-risk sex offenders.
“The Bill expands beyond correctional facilities to extend to ‘other institutions’ housing incarcerated individuals,” said Amanda Stulman, the USA director for Keep Prisons Single Sex (KPSS). “Presumably, this would include forensic mental health facilities. So, this New York Senate Bill would presumptively house mentally ill incarcerated men with mentally ill women.“
In criminal law, when individuals are found “not guilty by reason of insanity,” they are generally required to undergo psychiatric treatment in a mental institution. Aside from 44 prisons, New York State has several maximum-security psychiatric facilities for criminals, including two locations that treat high-risk sex offenders. Oakview in Marcy, New York, which houses 303 residents, and Bridgeview in Ogdensburg, which houses 92 residents, are home to individuals “deemed as high risk to sexually offend and in need of intensive treatment while serving prison sentences.”
Senate Bill 2860 would allow anyone who “self-identifies” as not just transgender, but even “gender nonconforming,” “nonbinary” or as having an intersex condition, to “presumptively” be placed in a facility that houses the opposite sex. According to the bill, inmates are not required to demonstrate or provide documentation that their “gender identity” existed prior to incarceration, and their records are permitted to be kept confidential.
In addition to housing placement, this new bill would allow inmates state-sponsored access to cross-sex hormones and surgeries to affirm their “gender identity,” but also the right to deny using hormones or surgery, which may have castrating effects that would make their presence safer for women.
“As with the laws and policies of many other jurisdictions, the provisions of this proposed New York Bill permit any inmate, at any time, making no modifications to their body or presentation, to claim a ‘gender identity’ which requires a correctional system to place them in cross-sex housing,” Stulman told The Daily Wire.
“They cannot be challenged or denied on the basis of lack of sincerity or past crimes, no matter how much their criminal history is one directed at women,” she added.
All correctional officers and staff are required to address the inmate by his new name and pronouns, and be given access to “commissary items, clothing, personal property, and programming and educational materials consistent with gender identity.” Male inmates would also be allowed to be searched by female corrections officers. Any violation of these stipulations, and the inmate can sue the state, paid for by the state.
Additionally, the bill would limit the use of “involuntary protective custody,” a safeguarding practice that keeps trans-identified male inmates segregated from the female population, because it is deemed “harmful” to the male inmates’ wellbeing.
According to the bill, a denial of placement into the women’s ward shall not be based on “discriminatory reasons” like their sex characteristics or if female inmates complain about being housed with males. They may, however, be denied placement if there is “clear and convincing evidence” that they “present a current danger of committing gender-based violence against others.”
Another amendment to the bill was the implementation of a time restriction that would require prison officials to make a determination on prisoner placement within a two-day period. Stulman said this poses serious potential risks to women, as two days is not nearly enough time to conduct a proper mental health and risk assessment of male inmates.
“Incarcerated women are rightly petrified while state legislators imagine themselves as civil rights heroes,” Stulman told The Daily Wire. “But this is no ‘civil rights’ movement. There is no ‘right’ for male inmates, however they identify, to be incarcerated with women.”
“Such an idea is contrary to decades of American and international jurisprudence, including the United Nations’ Mandela Rules, the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. Rule 11(a) provides: ‘Men and women shall so far as possible be detained in separate institutions; in an institution which receives both men and women, the whole of the premises allocated to women shall be entirely separate,’” she added.
Stulman’s organization, Keep Prisons Single Sex (KPSS), which has both United Kingdom and United States representation, campaigns for single-sex accommodation within the prison system and access to data on male inmates in women’s facilities. KPSS penned a letter to the bill’s sponsors and the committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction, highlighting their concerns with the new bill and citing past incidences of sexual assault committed by male inmates permitted to house with females nationwide.
According to KPSS, 33.8% of the incarcerated men seeking to transfer to women’s prisons in California are registered sex offenders. The Federal Bureau of Prisons issued a 2020 report that found sex offenders are responsible for approximately 50% of sexual offenses that occur in prisons.
The bill is currently in committee, likely to be put on a calendar to be voted on, debated, or amended. The bill’s lead sponsor, Julia Salazar of the 18th Senate District, did not respond to The Daily Wire’s request for comment and clarification in time for publication.