ACLU of Nevada questions new policy on transgender prisoners

CARSON CITY — The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada has voiced “grave concerns” about a new Nevada Corrections Department policy on transgender inmates adopted Wednesday by the Board of State Prison Commissioners.

The agency drafted its first transgender policy after receiving feedback from community organizations and advocates.

The policy requires staff assessment of inmates on a case-by-case basis. It also has provisions for transgender inmates to shower separately from other inmates and be housed in single cells as determined by the warden of the affected institution.

A review committee will make recommendations about an inmate’s placement and medical care. Corrections and medical staff make final decisions.

In a statement issued Thursday, the ACLU noted that the department failed to implement many of the organization’s recommendations in the final policy, “raising serious concerns about the constitutionality of some provisions as well as their compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act.”

“While the ACLU of Nevada appreciates the Department of Corrections for hearing our concerns, its failure to act on them poses a serious problem,” ACLU of Nevada Executive Director Tod Story said. “We are looking at all available options in order to ensure that the state’s handling of prisoners who are transgender is compliant with PREA and does not violate the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution.”

The department failed to adopt the up-to-date terminology recommended by the ACLU of Nevada in May, including continued use of the term “gender identity disorder,” which is no longer recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

According to the ACLU statement, policies that allow transgender inmates to receive hormone replacement therapies only if they had been prescribed them before their incarceration conflict with prevailing standards of care for gender dysphoria and with the Eighth Amendment, “which bars prisons from denying access to certain types of treatments based on a blanket policy that does not allow for medical judgment based on an individual’s particular circumstances.”

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @seanw801 on Twitter.

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