News (USA)

Trans woman was brutally raped in prison & had to be hospitalized. She won $10K in damages.

A sad woman in prison with her head buried in her lap
Photo: Shutterstock

A transgender woman who was placed in a men’s prison and was assaulted by a male inmate in 2019 just won a lawsuit against the Department of Justice, and she was awarded $10,000 in damages. The amount was “for her physical injuries, her pain and suffering, and her emotional distress arising from her physical injuries.”

Grace Pinson was assaulted in a Tucson prison and filed her lawsuit against the federal government after she alleged that they should have done more to protect her. She was seeking $300,000 in damages.

Her cellmate had threatened to rape her, but staff did nothing after she alerted them, she said. He then attempted to rape her, subsequently beating her until she had to be hospitalized for nasal bone fractures.

Other inmates were kicking on their doors to try to alert staff. But the staff took too long to respond and the damage was already done.

“An inmate who needs the voluntary cooperation of multiple other inmates in order to summon emergency assistance has not been provided with a reliable means of notifying staff of an emergency,” U.S. District Judge Rosemary Marquez said. 

“Duress alarms are the only reliable means that… inmates have of notifying staff of emergencies occurring within their cells, and (Pinson’s) cell lacked a functioning alarm.”

Pinson and her lawyers detailed the way that these alarms should be implemented, and the judge wrote in her opinion that they should have been present.

“By specifying that all… cells have a functioning duress alarm and by requiring staff to immediately respond to an activated duress alarm, the… order presupposes a duty to ensure that each cell’s duress alarm is functioning,” Marquez wrote.

She also said that officers encouraged her to commit suicide, and that exacerbated her already existing mental health struggles.

Furthermore, the prison did not treat the cell as a crime scene and failed to report what happened to the Bureau of Prisons.

In response to a request for comment from the Associated Press, the Federal Bureau of Prisons said it “does not comment on matters of litigation” due to privacy and safety concerns.

The statement said, “The FBOP takes seriously our duty to protect the individuals entrusted in our custody, as well as maintain the safety of correctional employees and the community.”

“We make every effort to ensure the physical safety and health of the individuals confined to our facilities through a controlled environment that is secure and humane.”

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