COLUMBUS—Today the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio sent a letter to the Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin urging the corrections center to adopt stronger policies to better protect LGBTQ detainees. After reports that some individuals who identify as LGBTQ were housed in solitary confinement, the ACLU of Ohio is concerned that the Franklin County Corrections Center does not have proper guidelines on how to treat LGBTQ prisoners.
“All jails should have policies in place to protect prisoners from abuse and unfair treatment, and LGBTQ prisoners are particularly vulnerable,” said Mike Brickner, senior policy director at the ACLU of Ohio. “Issues such as where a prisoner is detained, who conducts searches on prisoners, and how recreation and rehabilitation programs are administered should be addressed by these policies.”
Federal law known as the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) guides facilities on many of these issues. PREA was passed with broad bi-partisan support and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2003. In April 2017 the Franklin County Corrections Center informed the ACLU of Ohio that it had no PREA policies, and no PREA audits had been conducted. Today, the ACLU of Ohio is requesting any policies that guide how LGBTQ prisoners are treated.
“In the absence of a PREA policy, oftentimes LGBTQ prisoners are held in isolation. Solitary confinement does not make jails safer and it’s destructive to the mental health and well-being of prisoners. The Franklin County Jail needs to protect LGBTQ detainees, not shun them to solitary confinement,” concluded Brickner.