ACLU asks for IDOC to be held in contempt for treatment of trans inmates

(Image by succo from Pixabay)

The ACLU on Thursday asked a federal court to hold the Illinois Department of Corrections in contempt for failing to provide care for transgender people.

This is not the first time the IDOC has been in court over trans inmates or held in contempt. In August, a court held the department in contempt for failing to improve healthcare in prisons. In June, another court ordered IDOC to schedule a trans inmate’s gender confirmation surgery.

U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Rosenstengel first granted a preliminary injunction to the plaintiffs in this case ordering IDOC to make systemic changes to care transgender people in their custody three years ago. 

In August 2021, Rosenstengel held a four day trial in August of 2021.  At the conclusion of that hearing, after listening to the testimony from plaintiffs describing their physical and emotional distress, the court rejected many of IDOC’s arguments for the slow pace of change as “nonsense” and ordered changes to care for transgender people by IDOC quickly. 

However, IDOC has failed to obey the court orders, even with court-appointed monitors. The monitors’ initial reports were issued in the past two months and found systemwide lack of compliance. The ACLU said that is why they filed to seek contempt. 

“IDOC has been under a direct court order for months to make changes for our clients – they have failed,” said Camille Bennett, director of the Corrections Reform Project at the ACLU of Illinois, in a statement. “Our clients are suffering and at risk – and it must stop.”

The monitors have found:

  • More than one-third of those who should be receiving hormone treatment are being provided no care.
  • Not a single person in IDOC care has received or been scheduled for gender-affirming surgery.
  • Most transgender people in IDOC are housed in facilities inconsistent with their gender identity.

The filing is the latest action in a class action lawsuit filed in January 2018 on behalf of five women – Janiah Monroe, Marilyn Melendez, Lydia Heléna Vision, Sora Kuykendall and Sasha Reed as well as a class of all transgender prisoners in IDOC custody who have requested evaluation or treatment for gender dysphoria.

It urges the court to hold an in-person hearing on the contempt request on Dec. 15 and modify the current injunction to ensure short deadlines for IDOC to comply and report on their compliance with the court’s orders.

You can find the motion here