Hearts on a Wire Report: “This is a Prison, Glitter is Not Allowed” published

The Hearts on a Wire Collective is excited to announce the release of a new report, “This is a Prison, Glitter is Not Allowed,” documenting the experiences of incarcerated trans and gender variant (T/GV) people in Pennsylvania. The result of a 4-year, community-based participatory research process, this report includes storytelling and statistical data to highlight the multiple ways mass imprisonment affects T/GV people as well as to recognize our creative strategies for resilience and transformative change.

Since 2007, Hearts on a Wire has been building a movement to address the policing and imprisonment of our trans and gender variant communities across Pennsylvania. Hearts on a Wire is a collective of trans and gender variant people inside and outside of Pennsylvania prisons.

Hearts on a Wire, with the participation of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated transgender and gender variant individuals and help from prison activists and public health researchers, designed and implemented a survey to bridge the gap between our anecdotal knowledge of our communities’ experiences in Pennsylvania’s prison systems and the need for documentation of those experiences.

With the aim of centering in our organizing the voices of the T/GV people most impacted by mass incarceration, the survey also asked participants to identify the changes they would like to see and strategies for implementing those changes. Hearts on a Wire views this participatory research process and its inside/outside organizing as intertwined processes.

We hope the report informs community-led campaigns to address the harms of imprisonment on T/GV lives. This survey was the first study of its kind in the US.

The report is available online at:http://www.scribd.com/doc/56677078/This-is-a-Prison-Glitter-is-Not-Allowed

Contact the Hearts on a Wire collective at: heartsonawire@gmail.com or P.O. Box 36831; Philadelphia, PA 19107

With thanks to The Real Cost of Prisons for the pressrelease.

Marie Mason at Carswell, TX, in rumored CMU

As of August 6, 2010, Marie Mason is at the federal prison in Carswell, Texas.

It has long been rumored that Carswell is the location a third CMU (Communications Management Unit). The CMUs were previously secret detention wings of prisons which severely curtail prisoners’ access to the outside world; for more on them, see: http://www.supportdaniel.org/cmu/

Please write to Mason:

Marie Mason #04672-061
FMC Carswell
Federal Medical Center
P.O. Box 27137
Fort Worth, TX 76127

Marie Mason is serving almost 22 years for two acts of environmentally-motivated property destruction in which no one was harmed. This is the longest current sentence of any of the Green Scare prisoners. (The Green Scare is the name given to the recent prosecution of eco-saboteurs and animal liberation activists, in which the government has labeled them as “terrorists” and sought huge sentences.) Mason was turned in by her then-husband, Frank Ambrose, who had secretly spied on activists for years and then filed for divorce the day she was arrested. Mason eventually plead guilty to 14 actions; 13 were claimed by the Earth Liberation Front and one by the Animal Liberation Front. At her sentencing, the judge said she had “violated the marketplace of ideas” and gave her an even longer sentence than the prosecution had asked for (15-20 years).

More information on Mason is available at www.supportmariemason.org.

Making Jails Safer for Transgender Mainers

Aug 2nd, 2010
John Knight, ACLU LGBT Project

Most Americans can say that they’ve never had the pleasure of spending time in jail or prison. And we don’t really expect jails or prisons to be posh places, but we do expect them to keep those who end up there safe. Transgender Americans, on the other hand, face a different reality. Even a short jail experience, if you’re transgender, can be fraught with indignities, hostility, even violence or sexual assault.

The U.S. Supreme Court made it clear in Farmer v. Brennan that prison administrators who turn a blind eye to the sexual assault of transgender prisoners violate the Constitution. What the Court didn’t address was exactly how prisons and jails should go about keeping transgender prisoners safe.

A few enlightened prison experts have figured out that placement decisions shouldn’t be based on fixed rules about transgender people, such as the “genital rule” most prisons currently follow. Under this rule, a transgender inmate who has lived for many years as a woman is placed in a jail cell with other men, just because she hasn’t had genital surgery. And routine searches of transgender women are often carried out by male, rather than female, staff.

Imagine the risks these practices impose on transgender men and women. A 2007 study found that “[s]exual assault is 13 times more prevalent among transgender inmates, with 59 percent reporting being sexuallyassaulted.” (emphasis added).

Recently, the jail administrators at the county jail in Portland, Maine recognized the need to do something to protect transgender detainees and drafted a policy to guide those efforts. The Maine Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU LGBT Project, along with some help from Jennifer Levi at Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, were given the opportunity to comment on the draft and the result is a great success. Although there are aspects of it we’d change, the basic structure is exactly right.

It puts into place a Transgender Review Committee that takes into account gender identity (someone’s internal sense of maleness or femaleness) before classifying transgender inmates. Verbal and physical harassment are explicitly prohibited Transgender inmates are allowed to state their preference for whether they’re searched by male or female guards. Inmates can dress and use names or pronouns that fit their gender identity. It’s an extraordinary improvement over the practices in most other jails and prisons. Mainers should be proud.

Link to Article Here