April 24, 2019

Transgender Woman With Completed Sentence Files for Clemency After Retaliatory Punishment Keeps Her Behind Bars

ILLINOIS – Strawberry Hampton, a 28-year-old transgender woman, is seeking immediate commutation of her sentence, which was unfairly extended by the discriminatory policies and retaliatory discipline of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC). Ms. Hampton was originally scheduled for release in February 2019. The petition for clemency can be found HERE.

“Strawberry deserves to be free. She fought with strength and courage for over two years to be free from sexual violence and to have the IDOC recognize that she is a woman,” said Vanessa del Valle of the MacArthur Justice Center. “In return, she received repeated retaliation which unfairly extended her sentence for over nine months. She is being kept behind bars because she is a trans woman who survived unspeakable abuse and stood up for her rights.”

Ms. Hampton has been incarcerated in four men’s prisons, where she was subjected to extended abuse and sexual assault. In December 2018, after a year-long legal battle, Ms. Hampton was finally transferred from Dixon Correctional Center to Logan Correctional Center, a women’s facility in Lincoln, Illinois.

The transfer followed an emergency hearing in the federal court in November. After the hearing, the court acknowledged her abuse and affirmed that Ms. Hampton was likely to succeed on the merits of her claim that the IDOC violated her rights under the Equal Protection clause by placing her in the men’s facilities.

Ms. Hampton’s case is the second case in the country in which a federal court has recognized that a prison’s decision to mis-assign transgender people is a form of unlawful discrimination.

Despite her legal victory, Ms. Hampton still suffers from IDOC’s retaliatory actions. After she reported her abuse to IDOC, officials retaliated against her by   in falsely accusing her of disciplinary infractions and extending her sentence by nine months. IDOC further discriminated against Ms. Hampton by prohibiting her from participating in programs to earn “good time” – sentence reductions awarded to prisoners for good behavior. Ms. Hampton was repeatedly told by prison officials that, as a trans woman, she could not work or attend classes with men because her presence would allegedly cause disruption.

“There is a clear and all too common hypocrisy in Strawberry’s case—IDOC simultaneously refused to acknowledge her gender, and at the same time restricted and caused her harm based on her gender,” said Alan Mills of Uptown People’s Law Center.

During her legal battle, Ms. Hampton has earned widespread recognition as a leader in the struggle for transgender prisoners’ rights, in Illinois and nationwide.

Ms. Hampton was originally scheduled for release from prison on February 16, 2019. A petition for clemency has been filed before the Illinois Prisoner Review Board asking Governor J.B. Pritzker to grant commutation of her sentence in this case to the time she has already served. The petition can be found HERE.