The report “Protected and Served?” led by Lambda Legal and Black and Pink National surveyed more than 2,500 people nationwide from these communities about their experiences with police, courts, and detention.
Today, Lambda Legal, in partnership with Black and Pink National, released Protected and Served? 2022, a report that reveals the alarming rates of misconduct, abuse, and discrimination LGBTQ+ people and people living with HIV experience in the criminal legal system.
The report is comprised of quantitative data and personal stories gathered from more than 2,500 community members who participated in our survey about their experiences with the criminal legal system including police and other law enforcement, courts, prisons, jails, schools, and other government agencies.
The report provides an unprecedented glimpse into the widespread harm caused to LGBTQ+ people and people living with HIV through their interactions with these institutions. Of note:
- Protected and Served? 2022 includes, for the first time, participation from community members who were detained in jails and prisons across the United States. People in detention accounted for 16.5% of participants, or roughly 1 in every 6 participants. A special additional report, Spotlight Report: Detained Participants, takes a deeper look at the experiences of these participants.
- Half of all participants that had engaged in sex work experienced police misconduct: About 18% of survey participants indicated that they had “exchanged sex or sexual performance for money or other things of value” in the past five years. Half experienced some form of police misconduct while working in this capacity. Participants indicated that most commonly, police took their money (26%) or demanded sex in exchange for not arresting them (18%).
- Abuse in detention is the norm, not the exception. An overwhelming majority (94.3%) of detained participants, reported experiencing abuse in prisons and jails, including one or a combination of:
- Verbal assault, physical assault, sexual harassment, sexual assault, other sexual contact, being referred to by the wrong name or pronoun, and being accused of an offense they did not commit.
- Nearly two-thirds of those in detention experienced a two-week or longer interruption of their medication routine, including hormone replacement therapy, antiretrovirals, heart medications, and psychotropic medications.
- In the courts, transgender participants of color were more likely to have their transgender status inappropriately revealed than white trans participants (38% vs. 22%). For transgender people, respect and discretion, especially around their transgender status, is critical as being outed in a public and sensitive environment can be a danger to their safety.
- Low trust in government institutions: Participants who had face-to-face encounters with police in the past five years (57%) were less likely to trust the police than those who did not.
“Everyone who interacts with the criminal legal system, including LGBTQ+ people and people living with HIV, must be treated fairly and have legal rights that must be protected,” said Senior Attorney and Protected and Served? Project Manager, Richard Saenz. “It is urgent and imperative that we address the root causes and devastating consequences of the obscene levels of abuse, discrimination, and misconduct reported throughout the criminal legal system – and hold those responsible accountable. We hope this report is an additional resource for community members, policy makers, and advocates.”
“The Protected and Served? report is a critical tool for understanding the pervasive harms and injustices faced by incarcerated LGBTQ+ people.” Black and Pink National Executive Director, Dr. Tatyana Moaton. “We can shift the narrative and demand systemic change by amplifying the voices and experiences of those directly impacted. Our collective responsibility is to ensure that all individuals, regardless of their incarceration status or identity, are protected and served with dignity and humanity.”
The findings and recommendations in Protected and Served? 2022, will inform and support new research, advocacy, litigation, and policy efforts to address the discrimination and abuse experienced by LGBTQ+ people and people living with HIV in the criminal legal system and to increase accountability throughout these institutions.
The report lays out a series of recommendations for individuals, advocates and policymakers, and those working in the criminal legal system to help address these issues, including: supporting trans, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary-led movements; supporting court reform efforts; decriminalizing sex work and HIV; eliminating barriers to legal recourse for people in detention; working to keep LGBTQ+ young people safe in schools; and, banning profiling and other discriminatory law enforcement practices.
This is the second version of Protected and Served?. The first, published in 2012, has been an important resource for litigators, advocacy groups, scholars, journalists, and government entities, including the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. In 2022, we expanded the survey to include questions about the experiences of community members who are often ignored or made invisible, including detained people, young people, sex workers, and immigrants. The community survey asked questions about trust in institutions, experiences with crime, reporting of crime, hate incidents, intimate partner violence, and experiences in courts, detention, government systems focused on youth such as child protective services, and broader law enforcement.
Strength in Numbers Consulting Group, an LGBTQ+ led research, evaluation, and philanthropic strategy firm, facilitated the survey and co-authored the report.
To read the report, please visit www.ProtectedAndServed.org/2022-report
To read the Spotlight Report: Detained Participants, which offers more detail about the responses of participants in jail or prison at the time of the survey, go here.