Today we sent a letter to Mayor Vince Gray urging him to make the right choice when appointing a new director for DC’s Department of Corrections (DOC). We learned recently that Mayor Gray had removed Fenty administration appointee Devon Brown, who had been serving until a new successor could be found. DOC is currently under the interim leadership of Thomas Hoey. As we worked on our jails campaign for the past few years, Devon Brown was a constant barrier to progress. As there is still much work to be done, we very much hope that Mayor Gray takes our suggestions into account.
Below please find our press release about the letter.
For Immediate Release
February 28, 2011
Contact: Rhodes Perry
(202) 403-7000 / Rhodes.firstname.lastname@example.org
DCTC Urges Mayor to Make the Right Choice for DOC Director
GROUP CONCERNED WITH DOC’s Current Implementation of Trans Housing Policy
WASHINGTON, DC – On Monday, February 28th, the DC Trans Coalition (DCTC) sent a letter to Mayor Vincent Gray urging him to make the right choice for Director of the Department of Corrections (DOC). This issue is especially important to the group given their concerns about the DOC’s implementation of the “Gender Classification and Housing” program statement issued on February 20, 2009, and revised in July 2010. This new housing policy was created with the DCTC’s guidance in response to a 2008 Office of Inspector’s General’s report alerting Mayor Adrian Fenty of the DOC’s failure to appropriately house transgender, transsexual and gender non-conforming inmates, violating the DC Human Rights Act.
“Last year we submitted testimony before the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary documenting Director Devon Brown’s recalcitrance in working with us to ensure appropriate implementation of the transgender classification and housing policy, which is designed to appropriately house trans inmates,” said Sadie-Ryanne Vashti, a DCTC organizer. “While we were successful in developing a new housing policy for trans inmates, we have strong concerns with how it is actually being implemented,” said Vashti.
As the Mayor continues his search for a new DOC Director, the group requests that he consider the following recommendations when evaluating possible candidates:
- Community Accountability. Develop new oversight procedures that hold the DOC accountable to the public due to Director Brown’s failure to publicly address the concerns raised by trans advocates about the implementation of the new housing policy.
- Honest Transparency. Provide all DOC information necessary for community advocates and Council Members to fully evaluate the policy’s implementation to date and to engage in dialogue with the DOC and the Attorney General on making any necessary improvements.
- Enhanced Data Collection. Develop new data collection efforts to conclusively track the number of trans individuals who go through DOC’s intake procedures.
- IG Investigation. Request the DC Inspector General to investigate the extent to which DOC is abiding by its transgender classification and housing policy.
- Budget Request. Request budget resources and outline plans to implement and evaluate the transgender classification and housing policy. While this may seem like an unusual request, we are now convinced that unless the Council forces the DOC to act transparently and in good faith, it will be impossible to hold DOC accountable for its actions.
“Throughout our time working with Director Brown, we experienced several unfortunate situations when he and the executive branch more generally were openly belligerent regarding our concerns,” said Vashti. “Since we have no faith whatsoever that the interim director charged with implementing the transgender classification and housing policy has the skills and abilities to do so, we are eager to see a sign from Mayor Gray that rights based on gender identity and expression will be protected and aggressively enforced within the District’s jails,” said Vashti.
The group would like to see an appointee who has demonstrated leadership and creative problem solving skills when trying to meet the needs of vulnerable jail populations. Given the tremendous history of officially sanctioned oppression of trans people within correctional facilities, it is essential that the new appointee be someone with whom they can work in a professional and responsive manner. The group is confident that significant progress can be made to advance justice for trans people in the coming years, and they look to Mayor Gray to demonstrate sound leadership by appointing a new DOC Director sensitive to the needs of trans communities living in DC.