LINCOLN — A transgender female inmate, whose alleged mistreatment by male correctional officers led to a federal judge ordering training for prison staff, has been moved to a women's prison in Lincoln.
In her federal lawsuits against the Illinois Department of Corrections, Strawberry Hampton detailed allegations of long periods in solitary confinement based on false allegations of rule violations, sexual assaults by a group of officers who forced her to engage in sex acts with her cellmate while officers watched and groping by other inmates. She said she was threatened with rape and other violence while held in men's facilities.
According to attorneys for Hampton, she has been moved from Dixon Correctional Center, an all-male facility, to Logan Correctional Center for women in Lincoln.
Hampton, also known as Deon Hampton, lived as a woman for years before she was incarcerated for residential burglary in Cook County.
In November, a federal court ruled that the 27-year-old inmate was likely to succeed on the merits of her claim that IDOC violated her constitutional rights by placing her in the facility of her assigned birth. Hampton's case is the second case in the country in which a federal court has found that housing under such terms amounts to unlawful discrimination.
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After acknowledging Hampton's move to the women's facility, IDOC said, "the Illinois Department of Corrections carefully considered Hampton's housing placement before making the transfer."
Witnesses for IDOC testified in federal court that Hampton's basic needs were being met and she was in a safe environment. IDOC said mandated training was underway in November.
The MacArthur Justice Center and the Uptown People's Law Center filed a series of federal lawsuits in December 2017 seeking protection for Hampton from repeated abuse and harassment. In November 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Rosenstengel ordered the state to re-evaluate Hampton's transfer request and ordered the state to develop training in transgender issues for all its staff.
In a statement Thursday, MacArthur Justice Center lawyer Sheila Bedi said, "Strawberry doesn't belong in a women's prison, she belongs at home with her family. But until she's home, the very least IDOC can do is take this step toward remedying the discrimination and sexual violence Strawberry currently lives with on a daily basis."
Hampton is one of 80 transgender inmates housed in IDOC.