A gay man who used to be an inmate in a Massachusetts prison has claimed that LGBTQ prisoners receive a disproportionate amount of solitary confinement, reported WBUR.
Michael Cox told the Massachusetts judiciary committee on Tuesday that he spent a month and a halk of solitary confinement after reporting being a sexual assault victim.
“Within the prison system there are several clear pathways for an LGBTQ person to end up in solitary confinement,” Cox said during the hearing. “I reported an act of sexual violence and I spent 45 days in solitary confinement. This is both a deterrent to report future acts of violence against me and it has a chilling effect on all other queer people.”
Cox also reported receiving solitary confinement after hugging another gay inmate goodbye in the prison yard.
Cox’s testimony was part of a hearing for a bill presented by Massachusetts state senator Julian Cyr that, if passed, would require prisons to collect voluntarily disclosed sexual orientation and gender identity information for inmates held in solitary confinement.
“[The bill is] meant to be a tool to manage people who are a danger to the general population, but we increasingly we are hearing that queer and transgender individuals in the correctional system are being held in restrictive housing in what is essentially being claimed to be their own protection,” Cyr said during the hearing. “We have some significant concerns about this. There’s minimal information around how long LGBTQ folks in the correctional system are being held and the bill seeks to close the gap in understanding safety for LGBTQ folks.”