Transgender inmate gets transferred to women’s prison after attempting suicide three times
A transgender inmate has been given the right to serve her sentence in a women’s prison after a lengthy court battle which saw her spend 400 days in segregation and attempt to take her own life during her first days in prison.
Michelle Wright, who filed a lawsuit against the Oregon Department of Corrections in 2015 in order to be transferred to a women’s prison, spent more than a year in solitary confinement in a male unit during her five-year sentence.
During that time, Wright has attempted suicide three times, and has tried to castrate herself during her stay in the Two Rivers Correctional Facility.
Filing the lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, Wright and ACLU alleged that the transgender prisoner was denied essential medical care while in custody after filing more than 100 requests to receive treatment.
She was unable to begin hormone replacement therapy before she entered the facility.
“We are grateful that Oregon Department of Corrections is making improvements to safety and health of transgender people in Oregon’s prisons and applaud new management protocol to provide appropriate care,” said Amy Herzfeld-Copple, co-executive director of Basic Rights Oregon to KATU.
During the battle, Wright’s mother said that she was afraid she would “lose her forever”.
“At this point, I’m afraid I will lose her forever,” Wright’s mother, Victoria Wright, said. “She should be held accountable for her mistakes, but I’m worried she is being damaged in prison in a way that might not be fixable.”
However, it looks like Wright has began a cultural shift in how transgender prisoners will be treated in the facility.
The institution will now provide inmates with access to doctors with experience treating transgender people, providing mental health treatment, hormone therapy treatment, and if medically necessary, gender confirmation surgery.
Wright arrested in 2013 and convicted of attempted armed robbery. Her earliest release date is November 2018.
Image: ACLU Oregon