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One of New York City’s largest prisons, Rikers Island, plans to open up a new housing unit strictly for its transgender inmates.

According to the Daily News, the unit set to launch this week will house 35 transgender women in a main jail complex. Commissioner Joseph Ponte released a statement explaining the new unit.

“Because inmates are not all alike, the Department is creating specialized housing for many specific inmate groups,” DOC Commissioner Joseph Ponte said in a statement. “Providing [transgender women] with specialized housing and services is good policy and meaningful reform and is expected to reduce incidents involving these individuals while also leading to better long-term outcomes, including possible reductions in recidivism.

The unit will be voluntary for transgender inmates, meaning they can opt not to stay there if they so choose.

People in the transgender community were previously plagued in prison culture until laws like the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) were enacted in 2003. Some aspects of the law bans segregation of men, transgender, and non-conforming people in units and facilities, searches of transgender people to determine their sex, and the introduction of training classes to prison staff on LGBTI inmates.

SOURCE: The Daily News | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty 

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