Discrimination in Parole Hearings Keeps Trans Prisoners Behind Bars, Advocates Say
Rickie Blue-Sky will appear before the California parole board on Wednesday. He has spent the past 32 years in prison for an act that he has always asserted he did not do. This will be his fifth parole hearing. He is now 70 years old.
In 2013, Blue-Sky appeared before the parole board with numerous certificates showing the programs that he had completed as well as 31 pages of support letters. But those accomplishments mattered less than the crime he had been accused of, his continued claim of innocence and, as a trans man, his gender identity.
At that hearing, Michael Abacherli, the deputy district attorney of the San Bernardino District Attorney's Office, voiced his objection to Blue-Sky's release. The objection by itself is not unusual, but Abacherli's argument was. Abacherli stated that he considered Blue-Sky to be a danger to society, tying his assertion of innocence with his gender identity as proof that Blue-Sky posed a threat to public safety.