Texas' largest county jail has adopted
a policy protecting LGBT inmates.
Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia
said the new policy is one of the most comprehensive in the country.
The policy states “discrimination or
harassment of any kind based on sexual orientation or gender identity
is strictly prohibited.”
to the AP, the policy also outlines how gay, lesbian, bisexual,
transgender and intersex inmates will be searched, booked and housed.
Houston's county jail processes roughly
125,000 inmates annually, making it the third-largest in the United
States after Los Angeles and Chicago's Cook County.
The policy – a first for a Texas
county jail – took effect Wednesday.
The Washington-based National Center
for Transgender Equality helped craft the new policy.
“It represents a significant step
forward,” said Harper Jean Tobin, the group's director of policy.
“This is not a red or blue issue. It is an issue of preventing
violence, of meeting the state's legal and moral responsibilities to
keep people safe and safeguarding public funds that when sexual abuse
happens in prison need to be spent on medical care and mental health
care and recovery.”
The policy allows transgender inmates
to be housed based on the gender they choose and to be addressed and
identified by their chosen name.