Illinois prison officials are being accused of letting a transgender inmate be harassed and assaulted.
Strawberry Hampton is 27 years old, and her lawyers say she’s lived as a woman since the age of 5. But the Department of Corrections classifies her as a male, named Deon Hampton — in keeping with Hampton’s birth certificate.
That’s meant housing Hampton in a series of all-male prisons.
Attorney Alan Mills, with the Uptown People’s Law Center, says Hampton has repeatedly been assaulted, by both guards and inmates.
“This is about safety. If the Department of Corrections was able to keep her safe in a man’s facility, then they have an argument. But they’ve now tried four different facilities. Every one has proven that they cannot do it.”
Hampton been housed at Pickneyville, Menard, Lawrence and now Dixon Correctional Center, according to Mills.
The Illinois Department of Corrections did not answer a list of questions about Hampton’s allegations.
But it did send a statement saying "offender safety is paramount” and that "all allegations of sexual abuse … are taken seriously and investigated.”
Hampton is serving time for burglary and could get out next summer.
Mills says Illinois is housing 28 transgender women in all-male prisons.