Transgender Women at Rikers Are At Great Risk, Says Kim Forte; Separate Housing Is Important
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2014

Rikers has gained a reputation for violence committed by corrections officers and fellow inmates. Kim Forte of Legal Aid said that transgender women are especially at risk. "Just the inherent nature of being a trans-identified woman and being placed in a male facility, it puts you in an extreme position of vulnerability," said Forte.




WNYC News
Transgender Women at Rikers Get Separate Housing
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
By Arun Venugopal

Transgender women entering Rikers Island will be housed in separate facilities, starting Tuesday. A new 30-bed Transgender Housing Unit is meant to reduce violence against one of the most at-risk segments of the prison population.

Rikers has gained a reputation for violence committed by corrections officers and fellow inmates. Kim Forte of Legal Aid said that transgender women are especially at risk.

"Just the inherent nature of being a trans-identified woman and being placed in a male facility, it puts you in an extreme position of vulnerability," said Forte.

Erik Berliner, the Deputy Commissioner at the Department of Corrections, said the city worked with LGBTQ groups and others to develop the new unit, and that it's part of a broader strategy of "finding the areas in which vulnerable populations or populations likely to have incident involvement can be better managed."

So far, 116 staffers have been given sensitivity training, said Berliner.

Arun Venugopal is a reporter and the creator of Micropolis, WNYC’s multi-platform series examining race, sexuality, religion, street life and other issues that define New York City. He has been with the station since 2005, and has covered a wide range of stories, including the death of Sean Bell, the controversy over the Park 51 mosque and community center and Occupy Wall Street.