An inmate in a Colorado state prison is suing after being raped and abused, presumably by another inmate, while in custody. The inmate is a transgender individual that identifies as a woman, but she is nevertheless housed in a men's prison.
Before the rape occurred, the inmate sought the protection of the court against a disciplinary transfer. The had been housed in that unit before, and was assaulted. Unfortunately for the inmate, the court did not find her past experiences merited overturning the prison officials' disciplinary decisions. Sadly, the rape occurred in the unit that the inmate was seeking not to be sent to.
According to the AP story, the discipline was attributed to her alleged attempt to kiss a male inmate. She claims the allegation is false, but, the merit of that issue was not discussed in the court's recent order that denied the requested injunctive relief barring the transfer. The court explained that it did not find the utility in overturning the discretion of the prison officials.
But the lawsuit will likely seek to litigate whether the discipline was proper, as the rape occurred after the judge's order and the inmate's disciplinary transfer.
Litigating Prison Rape
Prison rape is a serious problem that often gets brushed off as just another part of the justice system. For those inmates that are not transgender, though, the statistics, while harrowing and frightening, pale in comparison to what transgender inmates face.
According to the statistics mentioned (in the link above), 4 percent of all prisoners in state and federal prisons report abusive sexual contact by another inmate or staff. However, for transgender inmates, that number jumps up to 40 percent. Victims can often struggle with procedural hurdles to getting legal help, including the administrative systems within most prisons making factual determinations that courts often find persuasive, or simply the very real fear of retaliation, from inmates or staff, for speaking up.