Quest for 'Genius Babies'? - Colleen Flaherty in Inside Higher Ed: Jason Richwine swiftly resigned from the Heritage Foundation this month following revelations of his 2009 Harvard Unive...
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“Orwell had it backwards. The past is a ‘boot smashing a human face.’ Whether the future is more of the same depends on what we do now.”–Kevin Carson
This criminalization of homelessness is not limited to cities conventionally seen as conservative. To the contrary, the same 2009 report ranked both liberal Berkeley and the famously queer friendly San Francisco among their "10 Meanest Cities" for criminalizing homelessness. These criminal sanctions put queer and trans homeless youth at increased risk of eventual incarceration.Even though most cities do not provide enough affordable housing, shelter space, and food to meet the need, many cities use the criminal justice system to punish people living on the street for doing things that they need to do to survive. Such measures often prohibit activities such as sleeping/camping, eating, sitting, and/or begging in public spaces and include criminal penalties for violation of these laws. Some cities have even enacted food sharing restrictions that punish groups and individuals for serving homeless people. Many of these measures appear to have the purpose of moving homeless people out of sight, or even out of a given city.
The road to incarceration begins in pretrial detention, before the youth even meets a judge. Laws and professional standards state that it's appropriate to detain a child before trial only if she might run away or harm someone. Yet for queer youth, these standards are frequently ignored. According to UC Santa Cruz researcher Dr. Angela Irvine, LGBT youth are two times more likely than straight youth to land in a prison cell before adjudication for nonviolent offenses like truancy, running away and prostitution. According to Ilona Picou, executive director of Juvenile Regional Services, Inc., in Louisiana, 50 percent of the gay youth picked up for nonviolent offenses in Louisiana in 2009 were sent to jail to await trial, while less than 10 percent of straight kids were. "Once a child is detained, the judge assumes there's a reason you can't go home," says Dr. Marty Beyer, a juvenile justice specialist. "A kid coming into court wearing handcuffs and shackles versus a kid coming in with his parents—it makes a very different impression."This initial bias makes it clear that queer and trans youth are disproportionately locked up in this country, even before they are given a trial.
While Guzman-Martinez reported Manford and he was convicted of "attempted unlawful sexual contact", justice certainly was not done. Manford was only sentenced to two days, time served.Manford maliciously forced Ms. Guzman-Martinez to watch him masturbate into a white styrofoam cup and then demanded that she ingest his ejaculated semen. Failures by Defendants CCA, DeRosa and Manford to adequately screen and monitor Manford, and to prevent situations where a male officer such as Manford is alone with a transgender woman detainee and out of sight of others, enabled this horrific assault on Ms. Guzman-Martinez.The assault followed a history of frequent inappropriate behavior and inquiries by Manford about Ms. Guzman-Martinez, including questions about her sexuality, whether she had a boyfriend, and whether other inmates had seen her breasts.During the commission of the assault, Manford made offensive gestures, faces, and comments towards Ms. Guzman-Martinez and threatened that he could have her locked up in “the hole,” lengthen her detention or have her deported to Mexico if she did not follow his demands.
The homophobic culture of corrections is compounded by policies that do not take into account the specific concerns of LGBTQ prisoners. For example, transgender women are typically housed with men, in accordance with their birth gender, and are required to shower and submit to strip searches in front of male officers and inmates. In addition, gay and transgender inmates often seek protective custody because of their heightened risk for abuse, only to be placed in solitary confinement, locked in a cell for 23 hours a day, and losing access to programming and other services.Thus, official policies in the prison system subject queer and transgender inmates to serious psychological discomfort, while heightening their already severe risk of sexual abuse.
Works cited include, but are not limited to: