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Transgender Georgia Prisoner Files Second Lawsuit Over Lack of Treatment, Sexual Assaults, After Winning $250,000 Settlement for Same Issues

On November 23, 2020, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) helped Ashley Diamond, a Georgia Department of Corrections (DOC) prisoner who is transgender, file a federal lawsuit alleging she had been denied necessary treatment for gender dysphoria and that staff and prisoners sexual harassed her and assaulted her repeatedly during the previous year. Failing to protect her because she’s transgender violates the Eighth and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, the lawsuit states.

Five years earlier, Diamond was serving a sentence for theft when the Southern Poverty Law Center helped her file a lawsuit with similar allegations. That lawsuit was settled for $250,000 after Diamond was paroled in 2016. It alleged that the DOC ignored the Prison Rape Elimination Act and its own standards by denying transgender prisoners hormone treatment, housing them in unsafe environments, and failing to adequately investigate allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault and physical assault. This allegedly drove Diamond to attempt self-castration and suicide multiple times. The settlement did not include any mention of changes in DOC policies or practices.

Diamond was reincarcerated for a parole violation in 2019. The DOC again denied hormone treatments and housed her in unsafe environments.

“Suing to hold Georgia accountable for its abuse of trans people is the worst kind of deja vu because Ashley Diamond has been down this road once already,” said a statement by CCR attorney Chinyere Ezie, who represented Diamond in the first lawsuit. “Ashley won so many rights for trans prisoners with her lawsuit in 2015, it’s shocking and horrific to see that five years later incarcerated trans people are still being sexually assaulted, denied necessary medical care, and left to perish,”

“Being a woman in a men’s prison is a nightmare,” said Diamond in a statement. “I’ve been stripped of my identity. I never feel safe. Never. I experience sexual harassment on a daily basis, and the fear of sexual assault is always a looming thought. I’m bringing this lawsuit to bring about change on behalf of a community that deserves inherent dignity to simply exist.” See: Diamond v. Ward, U.S.D.C. (N.D. Ga.), Case No. 5:15-cv-00050-MTT

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