STATE OR­DERED TO RE­VIEW TRANS­GEN­DER IN­MATE’S RE­QUEST TO MOVE TO FE­MALE PRISON

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY RACHEL HIN­TON, STAFF RE­PORTER rhin­ton@sun­times.com | @rrhin­ton

A fed­eral judge has opened the door for a trans­gen­der woman housed in seg­re­ga­tion at a prison in Dixon to po­ten­tially be moved to an all-fe­male fa­cil­ity.

In an or­der en­tered Wed­nes­day, U.S. Dis­trict Court Judge Nancy Rosen­sten­gel said the Illi­nois Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tions’ Trans­gen­der Care Re­view Com­mit­tee must con­sider all ev­i­dence for and against trans­fer­ring 27-year-old Straw­berry Hamp­ton to a women’s fa­cil­ity. The depart­ment has pre­vi­ously re­jected her re­quest to move.

Rosen­sten­gel also gave the depart­ment 14 days to tell the court how it plans to train all cor­rec­tional staff on trans­gen­der is­sues.

And the judge al­lowed Hamp­ton, 27, to at­tend a trans­gen­der sup­port group while in seg­re­ga­tion.

One of Hamp­ton’s lawyers, Alan Mills, says Rosen­sten­gel’s or­der is “in and of it­self a vic­tory” be­cause Hamp­ton was al­lowed to tes­tify on her own be­half.

“The hope is that the depart­ment will take the judge’s or­der se­ri­ously and any­one who sees the ev­i­dence will move to trans­fer,” Mills said. “We view this as only the be­gin­ning not the end.”

Illi­nois Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tions of­fi­cials did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

The or­der is the lat­est in Hamp­ton’s le­gal bat­tle to be moved to a women’s prison. In March, she filed a law­suit against the Illi­nois Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tions and, in July, her lawyers filed a com­plaint that re­newed her case to be moved to an all-fe­male prison.

In the com­plaint, Hamp­ton says her rights un­der the Equal Pro­tec­tion Clause of the 14th Amend­ment, which pro­hibits dis­crim­i­na­tion based on gen­der, have been vi­o­lated.

Hamp­ton, who is cur­rently in­car­cer­ated at the Dixon Cor­rec­tional Cen­ter, says that while she was at Pick­neyville and Menard Cor­rec­tional Cen­ters — both male pris­ons — guards “sex­u­ally as­saulted her and forced her to have sex with her cell­mate for their en­ter­tain­ment” and she was also abused by other de­tainees.

A spokes­woman pre­vi­ously said in state­ment the depart­ment “main­tains a strict zero tol­er­ance pol­icy to­ward all forms of sex­ual abuse and sex­ual harass­ment” and all “al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual abuse and harass­ment are taken se­ri­ously and in­ves­ti­gated.”

Hamp­ton started tran­si­tion­ing when she was 5 years old, ac­cord­ing to the March suit. She started tak­ing hor­mones in July 2016 and her testos­terone level is “vir­tu­ally nil and she is chem­i­cally cas­trated,” the suit says.

Hamp­ton wants to be re­moved from seg­re­ga­tion and is seek­ing a trans­fer from Dixon to the Lo­gan Cor­rec­tional Cen­ter, a women’s prison in Lin­coln, Ill. The move would make her one of the first trans­gen­der women to be granted a trans­fer to an all-fe­male prison in Illi­nois.

Hamp­ton is also seek­ing an un­spec­i­fied amount in dam­ages.

SUN-TIMES FILE PHOTO; IDOC

Trans­gen­der in­mate Straw­berry Hamp­ton is housed at Dixon Cor­rec­tional Cen­ter.

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