On Friday, March 12, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom granted Executive Clemency to Rickie Blue-Sky, a 75-year-old Native transgender man who has been incarcerated in California for over 37 years. Blue-Sky is a member of the Coeur d’Alene Schitsu’umsh Tribe in Idaho. Before granting clemency, the Governor’s Office conducted a consultation with elected officials of Blue-Sky’s tribe, who requested his release. Blue-Sky is a beloved family member and community member inside and outside of prison. He has been a mentor and leader in prison for decades and his release has a broad base of support by community organizations, faith community leaders, and scores of people whose lives have been transformed by Blue-Sky’s leadership.
The devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in prisons increased the urgency for Blue-Sky’s release, as he is at high risk for death by COVID-19 due to his age and chronic health issues. Blue-Sky was granted a medical reprieve, allowing him immediate release and the opportunity to receive the healthcare and family and community support he needs.
Governor Newsom’s clemency grant to Blue-Sky is historic in that he appears to be the first incarcerated transgender person granted clemency by a California Governor. The rate of incarceration for transgender people is 3-4 times higher than average and, while incarcerated, trans people are subjected to discrimination and higher rates of violence. We extend our deepest appreciation to Governor Newsom for this historic decision to grant Blue-Sky clemency and release him to the support of his loving family and community.
Blue-Sky’s beloved sisters, Avis and Frances, who have not seen him in 40 years, shared, “We lost our mother and our brother in recent years. There’s just the three of us left now in our family. Our mother lived to be 95 and she was hanging onto life in the hopes of seeing Blue-Sky come home. She just couldn’t hang in there any longer. We’ve missed out on a lot and we just want to grow old together with Blue-Sky. We have a lot of catching up to do and we’re ecstatic that at last he’s coming home. Our Coeur d’Alene Tribe stands behind him coming home 100%.”
Thank you to supporters far and wide who have supported efforts to bring Blue-Sky home! As we celebrate Blue-Sky’s upcoming release, we urge you to support clemency campaigns for beloved trans community members Syiaah Skylit and Brandy Scott.
Transgender Advocacy Group (TAG):
California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP)
Medina Orthwein LLP
Prison Law Office (PLO)
The Hill Law Firm
Transgender, Gender Variant, Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP)
Transgender Law Center
Young Women’s Freedom Center
Additional significant support:
Gender Justice LA
SURJ Bay Area
Survived & Punished