Criminal Justice System & Prisons

LGBT and HIV-positive individuals often experience unique difficulties when dealing with the criminal justice system. At best, the system is poorly designed to accommodate and serve the needs of GLAD’s community. At worst, it is overtly and deliberately hostile.

Antiquated anti-gay “sodomy” laws have been struck down, but other criminal laws related to sex—statutes that may be neutral on their face—are often enforced in a discriminatory way against gay men. In prison, LGBT individuals are frequently targeted for mistreatment and physical or sexual attacks. Prison officials may participate in such abuse, turn their backs on it, or lack institutional tools to adequately protect LGBT inmates. Transgender inmates and people with HIV may face additional difficulties gaining access to appropriate medical treatment.

GLAD’s Work On This Issue

Criminal law can be bewilderingly complex and stressful. Though this area is not the primary focus of GLAD's work, it can affect LGBT and HIV-positive people in dramatic ways. Because of this, GLAD makes every effort to provide people with resources and connections with experts in the field.

From the Docket

Settled • 2011

Adams v. Bureau of Prisons

Update: September 30, 2011

A settlement was announced September 30, 2011 in the case of Vanessa Adams, a Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) inmate at… More →

All Related Cases →

Legislative Advocacy

May 4, 2016


GLAD submitted a letter to the Massachusetts Public Access to Court Records Committee expressing concerns about a proposed new rule, Trial Court Rule… More →

All Related Legislative Advocacy →

Related News

June 8, 2016

MA Policy on State PD Enforcing Fed Immigration Policy Would Negatively Impact LGBTQ Immigrants

Statement of Janson Wu, Executive Director, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s announcement that he will… More →

All Related News →