New court ruling on transgender inmates welcomed by community members

Local News

Last week, an Illinois court ruled that prisons in the state have to change the way they handle transgender inmates.

The ruling indicates prisons can no longer assign housing to inmates based on their reproductive organs or the way they look.

They must honor the inmate’s preferred gender identity.

The ruling puts a stop to cross-gendered strip searching in prison, and orders more training for prison employees.

This comes from a lawsuit by five transgender women represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, who said they were mistreated by corrections officers while in custody.

Clock Inc executive director Chase Norris says that the ruling will help protect transgender inmates.

“One thing that really stood out was that people…faculty, staff in prison settings, are being properly educated on the transgender community,” Norris said. “And its super important that they’re aware of the basic 101 knowledge but also how to protect those individuals when they’re in the system. I think trans women are going to feel a lot safer being in a women’s facility, than they would if they were in a male facility.”

Cody Dornes is the president of the local union that represents employees of the East Moline Correctional Center. He says that the center will be able to transition to these changes smoothly.

“We’ve kinda been practicing this for a while,” Dornes said. “I don’t think that much is going to change.”

Dornes says they already have tools already in place, to help inmates who feel uncomfortable, or to de-escalate situations where other prisoners may take exception to living together with transgender inmates.

“The department has created a new de-escalation response team to kinda help calm an inmate down; calm them down,” Dornes said. “Some of the new roles correctional staff have taken on about having to talk to offenders more and kinda work with their problems. I think those tools will help us out a lot.”

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