One of the
country's last dorms of its kind for gay and transgender
prisoners will close in the next couple weeks at Rikers
Island prison in New York City, the New York
Post reported Friday. The dorm stopped
accepting new prisoners last month, and only 56
inmates are left in the unit, department of correction
commissioner Martin Horn told reporters. The prison will
instead open a specialized unit for all prisoners who
feel threatened, regardless of their sexual
orientation, the newspaper reported.
Some activists are angry about the new plan,
saying it won't protect gay prisoners, although prison
officials disagree. In addition, activists are
concerned that the new housing will be more restrictive, the
Tom Antenen, spokesman for the correction
department, told reporters that Rikers inmates who
feel threatened due to their sexual orientation will
be protected. "If that is the case and they need to be
protected from the general population, then we will
endeavor to provide the best possible security,"
Antenen said, adding that only a fraction of the
gay population at Rikers is now being housed in the dorm.