White House: putting trans prisoners in the wrong jails is "cruel and unusual punishment"

Washington DC - The White House has stated that putting trans women in men’s prisons is harmful and unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment.

Trans prisoners should be put in jails that align with their gender identity, the DOJ has announced (stock image).
Trans prisoners should be put in jails that align with their gender identity, the DOJ has announced (stock image).  © 123Rf/Sakhorn Saengtongsamarnsin

The US Department of Justice made the statement in a legal brief concerning Ashley Diamond.

Diamond is a trans woman who is suing the state of Georgia because she has been repeatedly sexually assaulted and denied access to adequate healthcare while being incarcerated in men’s prisons, Yahoo News reported.

The DOJ said the Eight Amendment "requires prison officials to conduct individualized assessments that lead to reasonably safe conditions of confinement and adequate medical care for all prisoners."

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"Prison officials violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment if they are deliberately indifferent to conditions of confinement that pose a substantial risk of serious harm to prisoners," the DOJ said.

Refusing to house inmates in facilities that align with their gender identity poses such serious harm, the department determined.

Diamond, represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center, filed a lawsuit against the Georgia Department of Corrections in November 2020.

"Being a woman in a men’s prison is a nightmare," the Southern Poverty Law Center quoted Diamond as saying.

"I've been stripped of my identity. I never feel safe. Never. I experience sexual harassment on a daily basis, and the fear of sexual assault is always a looming thought. I’m bringing this lawsuit to bring about change on behalf of a community that deserves the inherent dignity to simply exist."

According to data by the NCTE, trans prisoners are at 10 times higher risk of being sexually assaulted by fellow inmates and five times more likely to be sexually assaulted by staff.

Cover photo: 123Rf/Sakhorn Saengtongsamarnsin

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