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My friend Taylor is a transgender sexual abuse survivor currently incarcerated in a Texas men's prison "Safe Keeping" unit where she has been enduring sexual harassment and threats from both male prisoners and staff. She was moved to this facility last year after a successful petition campaign that informed the Texas Department of Criminal Justice about threats and violence she was facing as a queer prisoner. Since being moved to the Allred Unit, she is forced to publicly strip multiple times a day in front of male prisoners and staff every time she leaves her cell (such as for meals or to access medical care). We are campaigning to have her moved to where she would receive her basic needs without being subjected to these violating searches, and to keep her safe from further sexual assault and retaliation to her protests from staff. We are hoping to not only help Taylor, but to change policy at the Allred Unit to protect other trans and at-risk prisoners.
Unlike the majority of other TDCJ Units and all other Safe Keeping housing units, Allred forces medium custody offenders to publicly strip (in what inmates refer to as the "meat show") to be allowed to go to meals, the medical department, law library, school, recreation and chapel. Taylor is forced to expose her naked body to known predatory sex offenders in order to access the basic necessities of life. These predators hide behind the windows of their cell doors and masturbate while watching other inmates such as Taylor strip naked and spin in a circle in front of their day room. Taylor is one of only two Safe Keeping, medium custody, prisoners who have feminized bodies due to estrogen treatment. This makes her a prime target for the dozens of offenders she is forced to strip in front of who have been convicted of sexual assaults against women. These searches are physiologically harmful and pose a potentially physically dangerous situation for transgender and sexual assault victims. While this policy does not cause undue hardship on the majority of inmates, it is causing severe problems for Taylor who was placed on Allred Unit after being raped while in TDCJ custody. She was moved to Safe Keeping after being told she would be better protected from other offenders there, yet has endured problems at Allred that she did not have to face on other units while in general population. These searches have triggered PTSD flashbacks of her assault and such severe anxiety that she has been skipping meals and medical attention.
I have reached out to TDCJ along with multiple other concerned family members and friends, and Allred Unit has attempted to intimidate and retaliate against Taylor for these complaints. Since the first Ombudsman requests were submitted on 9/26/16, Taylor has not only continued to endure the same physiologically harmful and sexually voyeuristic situation daily in order to eat, but has since been threatened by both inmates and security staff. Other prisoners are calling Taylor a snitch due to her repeatedly being called to speak with ranking security staff and her known problems with other offenders masturbating while watching her strip. The security staff has threatened Taylor with both disciplinary cases and thinly veiled threats of physical harm while she was in the administration building (in an area with no cameras) because of their belief that the Ombudsman complaints had the intent to get their coworkers in trouble and bring unwanted attention to Allred Unit from Huntsville. On 9/29/16, high ranking security staff tore up an Ombudsman complaint from myself in Taylor's face while telling her that nothing is going to be done and it would be in her best interest to get her family and friends to stop complaining.
We are requesting that the Ombudsman Department, the Safe Prisons Coordinator and the State Classification Committee immediately act to protect Taylor from both the retaliation of offenders and security staff. It is known that Allred Unit has a strong history of sexual assault, offender violence and violent retaliation from guards. Taylor requested an OPI (Offender Protection Investigation) but it is hard to realistically expect Allred Unit to admit the danger to her when that danger is caused by unit policy and the same high ranking security staff that were in the room when Taylor was threatened and the Ombudsman’s complaint torn up. We request that Taylor immediately be transferred to another unit to get her out of the growing danger at Allred. We also request that the TDCJ Safe Prison’s Coordinator investigate the danger of Allred Unit's strip search implementation in regards to transgender and sexual assault victims in Safe Keeping.