Transgender inmate who alleged abuse is transferred to female prison

Lawyers for Deon "Strawberry" Hampton welcomed the transfer and said it is "a testament to her strength and courage."

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By Janelle Griffith

A transgender woman serving a 10-year sentence for burglary has been moved from an all-male prison to a women's correctional center.

Lawyers for Deon "Strawberry" Hampton, 27, announced her transfer Thursday after they fought for the Illinois Department of Corrections to grant her request. Hampton started transitioning from male to female at 5 years old, according to court filings.

Deon "Strawberry" Hampton, a transgender woman, was recently moved to a women's prison in Illinois.Illinois Department of Correction / via AP

Hampton was moved within the last week from Dixon Correctional Center in Dixon, Illinois, one of four men's prisons where she has been incarcerated and has alleged abuse, to Logan Correctional Center, in Lincoln, Illinois, a state corrections spokeswoman said. She started serving her sentence in 2015.

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Hampton's attorneys welcomed the transfer and said it was "a testament to her strength and courage."

Hampton alleges she endured violent sexual and physical attacks and emotional abuse at the hands of both staff and prisoners at four different men’s prisons, according to court documents obtained by NBC News. She also alleges that while at Pinckneyville Correctional Center guards there "sexually assaulted her and forced her to have sex with her cellmate for their entertainment." Her lawyers said she has attempted suicide as a result.

In December 2017, the MacArthur Justice Center and Uptown People's Law Center in Illinois, filed the first in a series of federal lawsuits on her behalf seeking an order to protect Hampton from the alleged abuse.

Illinois Department of Corrections officials had initially rejected Hampton’s transfer request but in November 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Rosenstengel ordered the Illinois Department of Corrections to re-evaluate its denial of Hampton’s request for transfer to a women’s prison. The judge also ordered they develop training on transgender issues for all staff.

Still, the MacArthur Justice Center says the Illinois Department of Corrections has not done enough to remedy "the systemic failures" that lead to abuse of transgender inmates.

Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lindsey Hess told NBC News on Thursday: "IDOC’s mental health professionals receive specialized training and ongoing consultation from a transgender expert. The development of training for all IDOC staff is underway."