The struggle of being a transgender inmate in a Georgia correctional facility is something few can understand. For Ashley Diamond it was a living nightmare that included multiple rapes, mental torture and medical neglect.
Diamond was sentenced to serve 11 years for non-violent crimes that included theft, obstruction and escape convictions. During this time period she was denied crucial hormone therapy to maintain her transition as a woman. Diamond first started hormone therapy at the age of 17 and now, at 38, the lack of hormone therapy had dramatic results. Soon her facial and body hair started to grow back and she once again physically transformed back into a man. She requested help from the Georgia Department of Corrections and instead was told that she had lost her right to express her female identity while imprisoned. Not only did inmates rape her but prison guards humiliated her with comments such as “protect your booty” and referring to her as an “it” or he/she. Her request for protection was met with “involuntary solitary confinement” and she was told to “act like a man.”
In February of this year with the help of the Southern Poverty Law Center she filed a lawsuit against the Georgia Department of Corrections. The lawsuit stated in part that her imprisonment amounted to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the 8th amendment of the US Constitution. Diamond was subjected to “Grave physical and mental harm that included mental anguish and bodily harm”. Now the state of Georgia has released Diamond after 3 years of hell and an outcry of support that included transgender celebrity Laverne Cox.
Her lawsuit names 8 correctional officials who are currently or were employed by the Georgia Department of corrections. After news of her release reached Diamond she is quoted as saying “Although the systematic abuse and assaults I faced for more than three years have left me emotionally and physically scarred, I’ll continue to fight for justice and to shine a light on the gross mistreatment of transgender inmates in Georgia and nationwide.”
GDC spokesperson Steve Hayes has stated that Diamond was deemed rehabilitated and “The inmate served 46 months of the sentence, two months before being eligible according to the prison sentence… “The board has released inmates previously prior to their individual eligibility dates as it has the authority to do when the board deems the inmate’s parole release is compatible with the welfare of society,”
Although Diamond has been released the lawsuit will continue forward with the backing of the US Department of Justice.