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California prisons permitting visitation for domestic partners


May 18, 2007

SACRAMENTO — The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation says that it will now let gay and lesbian prisoners have overnight family visitation with registered domestic partners. The ACLU announced this proposed policy change on May 15th – the same day the Department held a public hearing regarding the policy in Sacramento.

The ACLU believes this change in policy can only help gay and lesbian prisoners as they attempt to put their lives back in order. The ACLU was also happy with the respect the Department is giving to gay couples, by agreeing to this change.

Alex Cleghorn, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California, said in a press release, "We are pleased that the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has recognized that lesbian and gay prisoners also form lasting commitments and are more likely to be productive members of society when they are given the opportunity to nurture their relationships through family visits."

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation requested this change as a result of the ACLU�s efforts. The organization sent a letter to prison officials for the registered domestic partner of Vernon Foeller, a prisoner serving time for a burglary conviction. The ACLU told the officials that it was not legal under California law for the prison to keep domestic parteners from seeing each other. Due to the ACLU's action, the men were permitted a visit in December 2006. (Foeller was released April 22, 2007.)

Foeller believes he benefited greatly from the visit. "Being able to spend quality time with my partner gave us the opportunity to reconnect to one another and to begin planning for our future together out of prison," he said, in the release. "My partner really did stick with me through thick and thin. Just knowing that he still believes in me gave me the confidence to start believing in myself again." – Issued by Gay Link Content


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