Members of the LGBTQIA+ community are frequently victimized within the carceral system, and experience this victimization in a myriad of ways.
Disclaimer: much of the literature subcategorizes data on LGBTQ+ individuals into sexual orientation (related to LGB individuals) and gender identity (related to TI individuals). The data referenced below is not meant to insinuate a lack of intersectionality between sexual and gender identities - the guide author recognizes that individuals who are at risk of victimizations can (and often do) fall into both subcategories.
To familiarize yourself with LGBTQIA+ identities, select the letters in the graphic below to see what each letter stands for. The flag/banner that appear for each identity can be selected, and will direct to informational resources pertaining to the selected identity.
According to a report from the Prison Policy Initiative, lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals are much more likely to be arrested AND incarcerated than their heterosexual counterparts (Jones, 2021). LGBTQ individuals are overrepresented in every step of the criminal legal pipeline, including in the juvenile legal system, carceral settings, probation, and parole.
To learn more about the disparities LGBTQ+ folks face in the criminal legal system, the Sentencing Project has compiled a thorough report that combines statistical reports with proposed reforms in order to address these issues. Review the full report here.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics' 2012 National Inmate Survey showed that non-heterosexual inmates report being victimized by fellow inmates and staff at a higher rate than their heterosexual cohort (Beck et al., 2013).
This disparity persists across various demographics including sex, race, mental health condition, and level of education, as shown in the table below.
LGBTQ+ individuals are also at a higher risk of violent victimization outside of carceral settings.
Between the years 2017 - 2020, LGB individuals were victims of violent crimes twice as often as straight individuals while trans individuals were victimized 2.5x more often than cisgender individuals (Truman & Morgan, 2022). These crimes included not only sexual assault, but robbery and assault (simple or aggravated).
In addition to higher rates of arrest, incarceration, and instances of violence (physical and sexual), LGBTQ+ individuals in carceral settings are also at higher risk of being placed in solitary confinement.
In a 2015 report from Black and Pink International (an LGBTQ+ prison abolitionist organization), 85% of surveyed LGBTQ+ inmates reported being held in solitary confinement at some point during their imprisonment. The collective sum of time spent by survey participants in solitary confinement spans 5,110 years (Lydon et al., 2015, pp. 34).
While in some cases, placement into solitary confinement is claimed to be for the safety of the inmate, studies have shown that time in solitary confinement not only increases likelihood of premature death but also impacts concentration and memory. Additionally, individuals who experience solitary confinement can be prone to post-traumatic stress.
To learn more about the disparities LGBTQ+ individuals face in prison in Black and Pink's full report here.
There are several reports that have been created specifically identifying and emphasizing the disparities that trans (transgender, that is) individuals face in the criminal legal system.
The three reports linked below provide a trans-specific perspective on the topics of discrimination and mass incarceration.