Two Models of the Prison: Accidental Humanity and Hypermasculinity in the L.A. County Jail

By Sharon Dolovich
January 2013

Gay male and transgender women prisoners are vulnerable to sexual assault behind bars. Rather than ignoring the problem or confining members of these groups to solitary confinement, the L.A. County Men’s Central Jail segregates them into a special unit called “K6G.” Drawing on extensive interviews with K6G residents and with the officers in charge of the unit, Dolovich concludes that the K6G unit offers a plausible model, if not the only one, for protecting gay male and transgender women detainees from sexual assault.

Dolovich also considers what can be learned about making prison conditions as safe and humane as possible. Compared to life in the general population, K6G inmates live relatively free of sexual assault and are free to express their personal identity and sense of self in a way that is psychologically healthier than the typical prison experience. Dolovich argues that these conditions suggest a number of strategies that prison administrators committed to reproducing K6G’s success might pursue.

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*Article originally published in the Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology (2013).