On Friday, December 16, 2011, DCTC filed a friend of the court brief in the case of De’Lonta v. Johnson urging the Richmond-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to find that the Virginia Department of Correction’s housing policy for transgender inmates violates the Equal Protection, Due Process and Cruel and Unusual Punishment clauses of the U.S. Constitution. VDOC’s current policy is to assign inmates to male or female facilities based solely on their genitals, without taking into consideration where they would be safest. The failure to treat transgender women in the same way that non-transgender women are treated is discriminatory, the brief argues. Further, the brief alleges that automatic placement of transgender women into facilities where they are at high risk of being sexually abused is cruel and unusual punishment and the lack of availability of an appeal procedure deprives inmates of due process. Many jurisdictions, including the District of Columbia, have implemented policies that are more flexible and sensitive to the needs of transgender inmates, according to DCTC’s brief. The federal Bureau of Prisons is expected to follow DC’s lead by mandating individualized determinations of where to house transgender inmates and detainees when Department of Justice regulations implementing the Prison Rape Elimination Act are finalized.
You can read our brief in full below: