CHICAGO – A 26-year-old transgender girl serving a 10-year sentence in Illinois for housebreaking is in search of a hardly ever granted switch to a feminine jail the place she says she’ll be much less weak to the sorts of sexual assault, taunting and beatings she’s been subjected to in male prisons.
Deon “Strawberry” Hampton describes in a lawsuit filed final 12 months asking for the switch how guards and fellow inmates would often single her out for brutal remedy on the high-security jail in southern Illinois, Menard Correctional Heart, and earlier at Pinckneyville Correctional Heart.
A U.S. Justice of the Peace choose started a first-of-its-kind evidentiary listening to in Hampton’s case Friday in Benton, southeast of St. Louis, to assist the court docket determine whether or not to order the switch. The listening to, which is able to final a number of days, is concentrated on Hampton’s gender id and on whether or not she may pose a danger to feminine inmates if moved.
Whereas on the Pinckneyville jail, she alleges that guards made her and one other transgender inmate carry out intercourse acts on one another because the guards hurled slurs and laughed. When she was transferred to the upper safety Menard, she says guards there warned they might retaliate for complaints she made about Pinckneyville guards.
Unable to comfortably signify herself as feminine within the male jail — the place she will be able to’t put on her hair or nails lengthy — has additionally been devastating psychologically, stated one submitting from her attorneys on the Chicago-based MacArthur Justice Heart and the Uptown Individuals’s Regulation Heart. “I really feel inhuman,” Hampton was quoted as saying.
Whereas jail officers do have the choice of assigning such male-to-female transgender inmates to ladies’s prisons — it occurs occasionally. Federal information from 2016 signifies there have been no transgender prisoners in Illinois’ two feminine prisons; there have been 28 within the state’s 24 male prisons.
Surveys help claims that transgender inmates are at higher danger of abuse.
The most recent out there Justice Division information estimates there have been over three,200 transgender inmates in state and federal prisons as of 2012. And almost 40 % reported being victims of sexual misconduct by different inmates and guards — in comparison with round four % of the final jail reporting such abuse.
Some prisons and jails nationwide have confronted comparable authorized challenges. Jennifer Picknelly, a transgender girl who in Massachusetts, sued a sheriff alleging she was mocked with anti-transgender slurs, extorted and raped whereas an inmate at a Hampden County jail for males in 2016. She not too long ago agreed to drop the swimsuit in alternate for a barely earlier launch.
Having a court docket determine the place to ship Hampton and different transgender inmates “would instantly intervene with the operations of the (division) in a scenario the place Plaintiff is merely trying to govern the system,” Illinois Division of Corrections attorneys argued in a submitting.
The identical state submitting casts doubt, not solely on Hampton’s accounts of abuse by guards, however on her gender id — alleging that Hampton in preliminary classes with jail well being staff by no means claimed to be transgender and, within the phrases of the submitting, “was comfortable with being male.”
However a key witness for Hampton, scientific psychiatrist George Brown, stated in a declaration to the court docket earlier than Friday’s listening to that Hampton reveals all of the options of somebody satisfied of their id as a feminine, saying Hampton has recognized as feminine because the age of 5.
He additionally challenged the division’s competition that Hampton is a higher danger to ladies as a result of she hasn’t had intercourse reassignment surgical procedure, saying such a view “conflicts with all dependable medical literature.” He added Hampton’s low testosterone ranges resulting from earlier hormone remedies meant she was “functionally chemically castrated.”
A choice on the switch request is not anticipated for a number of weeks.