Two trans women incarcerated in the R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego County have been on hunger strike for over a week in an attempt to be allowed to share a cell together. Because they are trans, prison officials refuse to take them off single-cell status. Presumably, they have both been restricted to being in single cells to prevent them from having to share a cell with a man, however, it's clear that this is not for their own protection when there are two of them and they want to share a cell together.
According to a statement released yesterday, the hunger strike began on Friday September 21st and they are asking their supporters to call in and help:
Call Warden Paramo the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility: (619) 661-6500
Demand that Eva Contreraz (C-45857) and Catarine LaPre (K-67313) be take off single-cell status and be allowed to share a cell. Demand that an end to the discriminatory housing policy against trans women in the correctional facility.
Isolation has commonly been a discriminatory practice prison's have used against trans prisoners, and many confine trans prisoners to solitary confinement in order to avoid having to place them with either men or women. Often, such solitary confinement ends up being over extended periods of time or even throughout the duration of incarceration, despite many indications that extended solitary confinement can cause lasting psychological damage and may be considered cruel and unusual punishment.
Being restricted to a single cell appears to be a different practice than solitary confinement. Nonetheless, it is a discriminatory practice where trans prisoners are subjected to additional punishment that other prisoners do not have to deal with.
Earlier this year the Prison Rape Elimination Act regulations put out by the Obama administration acknowledged the increased risk trans prisoners are at and put in place regulations to deal with the problem. Enforcing isolation for all trans prisoners against their will is not a recommended practice for reducing violence.
Update: The original posting did not include mention that both women are a part of a trans self-defense prison organization, Gender Anarky. It has been suggested that their affiliation with this political party may be part of the reason for this mistreatment. This hunger strike is both about the immediate issue of discriminatory treatment and to protest prisons in general. For more information about Gender Anarky you can visit their webpage.
(Female prisoner graphic via Bigstock)