A transgender inmate is free from prison after fighting to be housed with women in an Illinois correctional facility, and she is promising to fight for others in her situation.
Strawberry Hampton, 28, fought for two years to have her within the Illinois Department of Corrections changed as she withstood abuse from male guards and inmates. She said she was physically assaulted, spit on, dragged and had her clothes torn off with a knife, she told the Chicago Sun-Times on Wednesday, two days after she was freed from the Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln, Ill.
“It was bad,” Hampton said.
The Chicago activist was born Deon Hampton and sentenced to serve 10 years for residential burglary, although she has maintained her innocence. Since her sentencing, she has been battling the Illinois Corrections Dept., and its institutions for the way she was allegedly treated behind bars and the push back of her anticipated release date. As she was shuttled between the Dixon, Pickneyville, Menard and Lawrence correctional facilities, she fought via the legal system for a transfer to Downstate, an all-female institution she said.
Hampton described a nightmare of an experience in her interview with the Sun-Times.
“A lot of people were attracted to me, you know, staff and inmates, and when I tell them ‘no,’ that’s when they become violent and they threaten my good time or threaten to put me in (segregation) or threaten to stab me,” she said.
Hampton and her lawyers maintain that when she tried to speak up about the abuse, she was penalized. She also was barred from taking part in work opportunities that would have counted toward good time and shortening her stay.
She has two pending lawsuits against the Illinois Department of Corrections seeking damages for the way she was treated.
“Someone needs to speak up,” Hampton told the Sun-Times. “I know that I’ve got the strength, I’ve got the courage to stand up even if I know I’m going to lose my life or be punished. I’ve been abused my whole life. I’ve been bullied. I’ve been talked about.”