PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The Washington State Department of Corrections has reached a settlement with a non-profit to improve conditions for transgender people who are in custody.
The non-profit, Disability Rights Washington, had been negotiating with the agency since 2019 after filing a federal complaint against the DOC.
The non-profit alleged the agency violated the 8th Amendment by failing to provide timely medical and mental health care to transgender patients and for subjecting patients to “unnecessary” cross-gender strip and pat-down services.
Additionally, the non-profit argued DOC violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act by failing to modify policies to accommodate gender-affirming medical and mental health care.
Under the settlement, DOC will designate a gender-affirming mental health specialist at each prison and will require transgender-focused training for correctional officers. The agency must also ensure people with prescriptions for hormone replacement therapy will continue receiving their prescription in prison, DRW explained — noting those seeking gender-affirming care for the first time while in prison can be evaluated by a community gender-affirming care expert for surgeries or other procedures.
Pat-downs and searches will also be performed by a correctional officer of the gender requested by a transgender person, DRW said.
The department will be monitored for three years to ensure its compliance with the agreement.
“This is a landmark agreement, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with DRW to implement it,” said DOC Secretary Cheryl Strange. “We have already made substantial improvements to the gender-affirming care offered to transgender incarcerated individuals in recent years, and this is another step in the right direction.”