The lawsuit will allow transgender inmates to choose housing assignments in accordance with their gender identities.
The Washington, D.C., Department of Corrections has agreed to improve housing conditions for transgender inmates.
According to FOX5, the lawsuit was initially filed by former detainee Sunday Hinton, who identifies as a transgender woman, and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Hinton, notes The Metro Weekly, had been arrested for unarmed burglary after she allegedly tried to steal a single $20 bill.
In her complaint, Hinton claimed that the Department of Corrections forced her to spend more than two weeks in an all-men’s unit in May 2021. Before settling with Hinton and the ACLU, the department put prospective inmates into housing based off their biological sex.
Hinton, however, said that her cell assignment caused her significant psychological distress.
Now, the Department of Corrections says that it will allow inmates to be housed according to their gender identity.
The agency has also pledged to reduce the amount of time transgender inmates must spend in protective custody before being given a housing assignment.
Additionally, the Department of Corrections said that it will end its practice of placing inmates in protective custody into full-body restraints while they are being transferred or moved inside jails.
Corrections officials will also have to share information on how they are implementing the changes.
This information, adds the Metro Weekly, will be shared with the district’s Public Defender Service for the next four month.
Rachel Cicurel, a staff attorney with the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, told Metro Weekly that Hinton’s lawsuit represents a significant win for all D.C. detainees who must spend time in protective custody.
“Sunday Hinton’s courageous fight against discrimination has led to important changes not only for transgender individuals but for all protective custody jail residents, who until now were subjected to the degrading and unjustified practice of full-body shackling,” Cicurel said in a statement. “Ms. Hinton’s case has exposed several kinds of inhumane treatment by DOC.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, D.C., also issued a press release celebrating the settlement.
“Both the D.C. Jail’s practice of assigning transgender people to housing based on anatomy rather than identity and its decision to place trans residents in unnecessary full-body shackles in protective custody were discriminatory and profoundly harmful,” said Scott Michelman, Legal Director of the ACLU of the District of Columbia. “It shouldn’t take a lawsuit to gain recognition of transgender peoples’ basic humanity and dignity, but we’re pleased the Department of Corrections has agreed to change its unlawful policies.”
Hinton said she is pleased that other transgender inmates could now be housed in units that correspond wit their gender identity.
“No one should face what I had to face at the D.C. Jail,” Hinton said. “[The Department of Corrections] put my safety and mental health at risk, and I’m glad that other trans people at the Jail will be treated with more dignity.”