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Washington Strikes Agreement to Improve Transgender Prisoner Conditions

28 Oct 2023, Jail News, Prisons, by brian

Landmark settlement in Washington enhances care for transgender inmates. Learn about the agreement’s impact and how it addresses key violations.

Washington Strikes Agreement to Improve Transgender Prisoner Conditions - Inmate Lookup

The Washington State Department of Corrections has settled with a non-profit to enhance conditions for transgender individuals in custody.

Disability Rights Washington (DRW), a non-profit organization, initiated negotiations with the department in 2019 subsequent to its submission of a federal complaint against the DOC.

DRW accused the agency of violating the 8th Amendment. The agency allegedly neglected to provide medical and mental health care to transgender patients in a timely manner. The non-profit also claims that patients underwent unnecessary cross-gender strip and pat-down services.

Furthermore, the non-profit claimed that the Department of Corrections violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act by neglecting to adjust regulations to enable gender-affirming medical and mental health care.

The settlement requires the DOC to assign a gender-affirming mental health specialist to each prison and mandate transgender-focused training for correctional officers. DRW explained that the agency must ensure that individuals with hormone replacement therapy prescriptions continue to receive their medication while in prison. Additionally, they mentioned that those seeking gender-affirming treatment for the first time while incarcerated can be examined by a community gender-affirming medical care expert for surgeries or other procedures.

According to DRW, a correctional officer of the gender chosen by the transgender in prison will also do pat-downs and searches.

DOC Secretary Cheryl Strange stated that the agreement is a significant milestone and expressed anticipation for the ongoing collaboration with DRW to execute it. She added that there have been significant advancements in the gender-affirming care provided to transgender prisoners in recent years, and the current initiative is seen as a positive development.

The department will be closely watched for three years to make sure it follows through on the deal.