Jovanie Saldana was a prisoner at Riverside Correctional Facility in Philadelphia when she was recently forced to perform oral sex on a correctional officer. In most books that's considered rape.
Her complaint triggered an investigation…of her. Oh, sure, the officer she complained about was transferred to another prison, but the investigation of Jovanie went forward. Investigators listening in on a phone conversation with her mother heard the mother scold Jovanie about not revealing the truth about her gender.
You see, Jovanie was born male…and apparently, now that this story has come out, everyone knows that she still has her penis.
Saldana had long hair, arched eyebrows and cleavage when arrested in June 2010, relatives said, and has been dressing as a female since age 12. Saldana does have male genitalia, Hawes confirmed.
Hawes would be prison spokeswoman, Shawn Hawes.
The call was enough for correctional authorities to have Jovanie transferred to an all-male prison facility.
Since intake normal procedure at a prison involves a strip search and a cavity search to prevent the entrance of contraband, just how Jovanie's status was not discovered until now is unknown. It's one of the things that is "being investigated".
Saldana's relatives are the people who told her she was being transferred. Nobody in authority bothered to speak to her about the "mix-up".
According to the people who wrote this article (Dana DiFilippo and Phillip Lucas), Jovanie "suckered the system"…as if she had any power in the situation in which she found herself.
Nobody is saying that Ms. Saldana doesn't belong in prison. She has been charged with several felonies, including armed robbery. But this is a bit much:
A source close to the prison system, who asked not to be identified, complained that the slip-up "jeopardized a lot of women over there [at Riverside]".
It is true that Jovanie was written up for a couple of fights during her time there, but have prison authorities lost sight of the fact that she was the one sexually assaulted?
Lorenzo North, president of the union representing corrections officers, declined to discuss the officers' failure to perform the required cavity searches.
"I don't know how [Saldana] got through," North said, adding that all inmates should be searched. "If you don't strip-search somebody thoroughly, then you're not 100 percent sure of getting whatever [contraband] that inmate has. He may have something up his butt."
But North claimed the goof proved that the officer whom Saldana accused of sexual abuse is innocent.
That last sentence literally blows my mind. Does Mr. North believe that transwomen can't be the object of sexual assault by our very nature? Or that all transwomen are liars on such a matter? Or what?
I'm trying to get him back to RCF [Riverside] as soon as possible, because he didn't do anything wrong.
Because, after all, a transwoman is only good for giving a man a blow-job. Right, Lorenzo?
Meanwhile, Jovanie has been transferred to an all-male facility, where 59% of transwomen are raped while incarcerated. 0% of incarcerated transwomen consider prison authorities to be their protectors while they are serving their sentences.
Transgender women who have been raped behind bars speak about the additional abuse they suffer once they file a sexual assault report or request medical and mental health treatment. Rather than receiving assistance, many are met by cynical corrections officials who blame the survivors for the abuse, faulting them for being provocative or “asking for it.” In the worst cases, transgender women who report a rape are themselves punished — for having engaged in prohibited sexual activity.
The National Prison Rape Elimination Commission Report, as mandated by the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, calls for individual judgment on a case-by-case basis to determine in what type of facility a transperson should be incarcerated.
And punishment for reporting being raped should not be part of that judgment.