Tomieka Johnson was sentenced to 50 years behind bars by a California court in 2012 after she killed her abusive husband during a physical altercation. Johnson, a former highway patrol officer, told RT that she shared a cell with with a transgender prisoner who was “very violent and very vulgar.” The inmate would reportedly force women in the prison to clean the bathroom and wash the floors, leading to interactions that reminded Johnson of the domestic abuse she once suffered.
And although the inmate in question identified as a woman, the biological male allegedly had a girlfriend whom he would “beat” and “choke” regularly. According to Johnson, the prisoner in question sometimes became violent if his ‘girlfriend’ rejected his sexual advances.
“It would be, she didn’t want to be romantic and he would get angry and attack her… She never reported it,” Johnson told RT.
She believes that she was chosen to bunk with the transgender inmate because the guards in the prison thought it would be a good “joke” to make a former police officer share a cell with a biological male.
“I felt hopeless. I felt trapped,” she said of the experience.
At the start of this year, California passed legislation allowing trans inmates to request transfer to facilities that align with their gender identity. Since then, around 300 such requests have been submitted, with not a single request having been rejected as of June.
The policy was likely the result of politicians paying lip service to the LGBT community, which has been able to “pool resources” to exert political power in the state, Johnson said. She stressed that while some officials undoubtedly wanted to adopt policies that would keep everyone “safe,” authorities were clearly being left in the dark about what the policy meant for female inmates.