Transgendered, Gay ICE Detainees Sue Over Treatment at Theo Lacy Jail

Guards at Theo Lacy Jail routinely taunted transgendered immigration detainees, abusing them with anti-gay slurs and intrusive and unnecessary searches, while also keeping them locked in their cells for 22 hours a day, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday on behalf of 13 detainees. According to the lawsuit, 22-year-old transgendered inmate Alejandro Cortez-Reyna complained after her two-hour allowance outside her cell was reduced to about 45 minutes. Guards allegedly responded: “Because you need to learn how not to be a faggot.”

AP broke the news of the lawsuit yesterday; Cindy Carcamo at the Register has a story about it which you can read here. The lawsuit goes on to say that guards allegedly taunted Cortez-Reyna, who prefers to be called “Alexis,” with anti-gay slurs and
joked about her dying of AIDS. The guards also alllegedly taunted Alexis by forcing her to disrobe in public under the guise of searching her for contraband.

The suit was filed by the Heartland Alliance National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago, which claims that the mistreatment was not isolated to a handful of bigoted deputies, but rather was part of a systematically unfair policy toward gay and transgendered immigration detainees at the jail as well as several other facilities around the country, including the Santa Ana Jail where Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contracts with local enforcement agencies to house immigration detainees.

 Both ICE and OC Sheriff's Dept. officials say they're investigating the claims made in the lawsuit.

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