The Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail (Men's Central) is the world's largest jail facility, hosting the country's largest share of male inmates with just over 6,000 men at any given time. Men's Central is also one of the few jails in the US that provide either voluntary self-segregation or automatic segregation of gay and transgendered inmates from the general prison population. Upon arrival at Men's Central, inmates are screened to determine whether they are gay, bisexual, or transgendered ("GBT"). If an inmate is determined to be GBT, the inmate is classified as a K6G (formerly K-11) inmate. K6G inmates are then housed in one of four units specially designated for their classification. While K6G inmates have access to general jail facilities, such as the library, they wear special light blue jumpsuits and are escorted by jail staff to ensure their safety when they are outside of their units. K6G was founded in 1985 by Deputies Randy Bell and Bart Lanni because of a federal court order in response to a suit brought by gay prisoners who had suffered abuse. Roughly 300 inmates are classified as K6G at any given time.
In addition to being separated from the general population of the jail, K6G inmates can also participate in the Social Mentoring Academic and Rehabilitative Training, or SMART, program. The SMART program allows gay inmates to complete high school diplomas or get GEDs, in addition to particpating in 10-week courses in drug rehabilitation, anger management and life skills. Before the SMART program, nearly 95% of gay inmates found their way back into jail after being released. That number is now less than 30%, as compared to a rate of about 60% in the general prisoner population.
However, once transferred from Men's Central to a California state prison, K6Gs are forced to reintegrate into the general prison population, as California prisons currently do not require that an inmate's GBT status be considered during prison classification.
On August 1, 2010, LA LGBT radio show The Alternative explored BEHIND GAY BARS with Huffington Post contributor and founder of The Trash Whisperer blog Mark Olmsted, Center for Health Justice’s Ron Osorio, and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies Randy Bell and Bart Lanni. Mark and Ron shared their stories as well as discussed being GAY, having access to condoms, and being HIV+ in prison. Deputies Bell and Lanni discussed the model K6G unit they founded and run at the LA County Jail. The unit segregates LGBT prisoners for their own protection and houses them in a special dormitory.