FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 12, 2016
Gender Violence in SF Jail: #SurvivedAndPunished #LetWomenIntoWomensHousing
SAN FRANCISCO — Precious, a Black woman who is transgender, was jailed more than two weeks ago when she told her abusive husband she was annulling their marriage and he called the police to revoke her probation. Community members from TGI Justice Project, St James Infirmary, TAJA’s Coalition, Sheroes Project, Transgender Law Center and other organizations will be hosting a rally and a press conference about her case today, Thursday May 12, at 12:30 pm outside of the jail at 850 Bryant St in San Francisco.
“Precious is a beloved community member and a survivor who was annulling her marriage and was sent to jail as a consequence. My question is: would this have happened if she were rich? If she were white? If she wasn’t trans?” said Vanessa Warri, Recruiter and Facilitator of the Sheroes Project at The Center of Excellence for Transgender Health, UCSF. “Precious needs to be released to our community immediately where she can heal from this whole traumatic experience and SFSD needs to provide housing in the jails for transgender and intersex people where the people feel they will be safest, including letting women into women’s housing.”
The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department has come under heat recently for racism, transphobia, and violence within the jail system. Despite the fact that gentrification has reduced San Francisco’s Black population to 3%, 56% of the jail population is Black. A 2015 SF LGBT Center and San Francisco Human Rights Commission report states that one in two Black transgender women experience jail in their lifetimes. The Sheriff’s Department recently attempted to use this as a justification to build new jail space and was defeated by significant opposition from TGI people and their communities and yet has repeatedly received press coverage for movement towards a gender selfidentification based housing policy while in fact those behind bars are harassed and mistreated by jail custody staff and remain vulnerable to violence and are endangered.
“Precious’ case is representative of so many overlapping problems with the jail system. She’s Black and trans, so she’s much more likely to be vulnerable to intimate partner violence and police harassment. She’s getting punished for trying to leave her husband. She got cited for a probation violation, which should not be reason for incarceration. Once she’s in jail, she’s more likely to face violence, particularly sexualized violence, from guards or to be thrown into solitary confinement, which amounts to torture. She can’t get out of jail because she’s low income and the bail is too high. Basically we’re looking at a system that subjects her to violence at every step of the process,” said Janetta Johnson, Executive Director of TGI justice Project.
People from TGI Justice Project, #SurvivedAndPunished, and other organizations will speak at the press rally. They are demanding that Precious be released on her own recognizance, that the SFSD immediately implement a housing policy centering gender selfdetermination, and finally that the systems that trap people, most frequently women, between situations of domestic violence and realities of state violence be eliminated.