A 29-year-old transgender female inmate has been transfered to a women’s facility in Lincoln after she and her lawyer claim she was subjected to sexual assault in Pontiac.
Janiah Monroe was transferred the Logan Correctional Center on Monday. Back in February, Monroe filed suit requesting a transfer based on her sexual identity. The lawsuit, filed by the MacArthur Justice Center, alleged Monroe suffered repeated sexual and physical assault inside the men’s prison.
The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) transferred Monroe more than a year after she first requested IDOC move her to a woman’s prison.
According to the MacArthur Justice Center, Monroe experienced several mental health crises including suicide attempts. Additonally, they claim correctional staff conducted invasive and inappropriate pat-downs.
“For well over a year, Janiah waited to see if IDOC would follow the law, protect her from sexual abuse and harassment, and house her in the women’s division,” said Vanessa del Valle of the MacArthur Justice Center. “She filed her lawsuit in February after IDOC ignored her pleas for help. It is our hope that IDOC’s decision to transfer Janiah without protracted litigation suggests that the department might be taking seriously its obligation to protect trans women from sexual violence. But there are many more Janiahs in IDOC custody. Until IDOC overhauls its policies and procedures and until staff is effectively retrained, trans women in IDOC custody remain at great risk for sexual violence and abuse.”
Her transfer marked the second time in recent months that a trans woman has won a transfer to a woman’s prison following the filing of a lawsuit by the MacArthur Justice Center and the Uptown People’s Law Center. In December 2018, trans woman Strawberry Hampton was moved from an all-male prison to Logan Correctional Center.
She also claimed to have suffered repeated abuse and sexual assaults in various male prisons.
“We are glad that Janiah has been moved to a prison where she has a chance to be safe. We look forward to the day when every prisoner can feel safe in all of Illinois’ prisons,” aid Alan Mills, executive director of Uptown People’s Law Center. “The Uptown People’s Law Center is committed to continuing to work to ensure that Janiah, other trans women, and all Illinois’ prisoners are protected and receive the medical and mental health care they need,” said Alan Mills, executive director of Uptown People’s Law Center.”