Transgender woman files second lawsuit against Georgia Department of Corrections for sexual assault
25.11.2020 | Amelia Rude | U. Pittsburgh School of Law, US NOVEMBER 24, 2020 05:30:30 PM | 100
Five years after her initial lawsuit, which led to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) declaring that prison officials must treat gender dysphoria, Ashley Diamond, a transgender woman, brought suit against the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) Monday.
According to the complaint, Ashley “is once again trying to survive brutal and unrelenting abuse and mistreatment as a result of [the GDC’s] actions and omissions.” Her initial abuse ended after she was released from the GDC to parole in August 2015. However, a recent parole violation has led her to be sexually victimized in the custody of GDC once again. Defendants named in the suit include Georgia Statewide Mental Health Director Javel Jackson, Medical Director of the GDC Sharon Lewis, Prison Rape Elimination Act Coordinator Grace Atchison, and GDC Commissioner Timothy Ward.
Diamond sent seven letters and two emails regarding constitutional violations between May 1 and November 6, 2020, “repeatedly notif[ying] Defendants of the serial sexual assaults, abuses, and suffering Ms. Diamond was experiencing,” which did not lead to any meaningful intervention. Diamond has been sexually assaulted 14 times while in GDC custody, eight of these instances during her current housing arrangement. Additionally, the GDC refuses to house her in a women’s prison, and she cannot access any safe housing aside from solitary confinement. Diamond’s complaint argues that the sexual assault of transgender women in prison is foreseeable, and that the GDC failed to mitigate this risk, in spite of their knowledge of its existence.
In addition to failing to intervene in the sexual assaults, the GDC has refused Diamond treatment for her gender dysphoria, which has led to instances of attempted self-castration, suicide attempts, anxiety, and depression. Following the 2015 case, “[t]he abuse and neglect that Ms. Diamond has experienced are all the more egregious because Defendants have willfully ignored a prior judicial finding that the very same conduct Defendants repeat qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment and a violation of clearly established constitutional rights.”
Diamond’s placement in the men’s prison has separated her “from similarly situated cisgender women (i.e., non-transgender women) who are housed in women’s facilities and therefore shielded from sexual predation from incarcerated cisgender men.”
Diamond’s case will take place during a continued investigation by the DOJ into Georgia’s mistreatment of LGBTQ+ individuals in the prison system.