LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Apart from the general population, inmates say the gay wing of Men’s Central Jail is a community of acceptance and support.
Sheriff’s officials say the LGBT population was segregated in the 1980s in response to an ACLU lawsuit to protect inmates from violence.
But in the bunked-bed dorms, homosexual and transgender inmates have created their own rules and own culture behind bars inside the unit, known as K6G.
About 400 inmates live in K6G.
“I got to learn how to love myself here,” said Erica Anderson, a transgender inmate serving time for a parole violations and drug use.
She says K6G is a community of acceptance and support.
Nicholas Stewart, a gay inmate, agrees.
“It’s about being who you are. We embrace individuality,” said Stewart, who is behind bars for credit card fraud and selling drugs.
According to Sheriff’s Department officials, heterosexual inmates have tried to get placed into K6G because it’s safer than the general population, where there is violence from gang and racial tensions.
Deputy Sheriff Javier Machado is tasked with interviewing incoming inmates to determine whether they’re gay.
“The questions on there are just open dialogue to see what kind of life you’re living. Who are you hanging around with. We do ask about gay bars or clubs or magazines,” he explained.
Capt. Joseph Dempsey says there are very few jails in the country that segregate gay and transgender inmates.
“What makes this unique is all the programming that we give them. All the services we give them to try and reduce recidivism,” he said.