This past weekend, BALIF sent a delegation to the Conference of California Bar Associations’ (CCBA) annual conference of delegates in San Diego. One of the core missions of the CCBA is to help the resolutions approved by the Conference become law. Resolutions proposed by bar associations are voted on at the conference, and if approved, are eligible for inclusion in the CCBA legislative agenda. CCBA has become a respected body in Sacramento, with numerous CCBA-sponsored bills enacted each year. In recent years, BALIF has been the only LGBT bar association to propose resolutions and participate at CCBA.
This year, BALIF proposed a resolution that would require state, local and private correctional facilities to create a safe environment free from sexual abuse for inmates or detainees by adopting policies implementing the U.S. Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). These standards, widely seen as groundbreaking by corrections professionals, advocates, and survivors of sexual abuse in detention, lay out a comprehensive framework for ending abuse in adult jails and prisons, lockups, community confinement facilities, and juvenile facilities. LGBT prisoners are significantly more likely to experience assaults, including sexual assaults, than non-LGBT prisoners. This problem is particularly severe for transgender people. Also, as a means to procure safety, some facilities have designated involuntary LGBT specific units, which limit programming in some circumstances to those housed in these units, as well as designates their placement solely based on their LGBT status. Furthermore, these units, in some circumstances, have become a cesspool for discrimination and harassment by guards and other inmates. If enacted, the resolution would ensure federal guidelines to protect prisoners from attacks from guards and other prisoners are followed. It would also establish protections so that prisoners subject to violence will not be subject to punitive measures such as segregation.
The BALIF-sponsored resolution was approved by CCBA, making it eligible for inclusion on CCBA’s legislative agenda! More work is still to be done, however, and we can use your help in Sacramento to lobby for this proposal in February. If you are interested in joining the CCBA Committee to help lobby or to propose resolutions for next year’s Conference, please email CCBA@balif.org.