Transgender Inmate Is First To Be Awarded Individual Compensation Under Prison Rape Elimination Act

Corrected: A Maryland administrative judge awarded $5,000 to a transgender state prison inmate, who alleged that guards kept her in solitary confinement for more than two months.

The case was brought under the Prison Rape Elimination Act, according to the Wall Street Journal. Judge Denise O. Shaffer’s ruling—which found that the Patuxent Institution in Jessup, Maryland, did not comply with standards meant to protect inmates from sexual abuse—marks the first time that an inmate has won individual relief for violations of the 2003 law.

Neon “Sandy” Brown, who identifies as female, was serving a five-year assault sentence, Reuters reports. Brown, 40, also alleges that the guards routinely taunted her, encouraged her to commit suicide and watched her in the shower.

The judge found that the prison guards’ alleged voyeurism amounted to sexual abuse. Shaffer also ruled that the prison should establish new policies for transgender inmates regarding strip searches, housing and guard interactions. The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services has adopted the judge’s ruling, Reuters reports, and is requiring prisons there to adopt new policies and training for housing transgender inmates.

Updated on Sept. 28 to state that it was a Maryland administrative judge who made the ruling.

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