FreeState Justice (MD)

Since 2008, this legal advocacy organization seeks to improve the lives of low-income lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (“LGBT”) Marylanders.

Primary geographic focus: Maryland
Organization type(s): Provider, Research/Policy/Organizing
Acronym or short name: FreeState

FreeState Legal is a legal advocacy organization that seeks to improve the lives of low-income lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (“LGBT”) Marylanders. Despite recent, incremental judicial victories for the national LGBT community, the low-income LGBT population continues to struggle with legal challenges such harassment, complex family law issues, and anti-LGBT discrimination in employment, housing, foster care, healthcare and public accommodations. In addition to needing attorneys with specific knowledge of how the law affects LGBT citizens, LGBT clients need attorneys who will treat them with respect and understanding. FreeState’s mission is to combine direct legal services with education and outreach to ensure that the low-income LGBT community Maryland receives fair treatment in the law and society.

FreeState was founded in 2007 by a group of attorneys and law students who recognized that the specific needs of the low-income LGBT population were not being effectively met. To date, FreeState is one of only a few direct service LGBT advocacy organizations in the United States. FreeState began accepting cases in 2008 and began building a network of pro bono attorneys who volunteer their time to assist clients.

Since 2008, FreeState has been expanding the ways in which it promotes justice for the low-income LGBT community Maryland. FreeState (1) provides direct legal services to low-income LGBT clients through its in-house counsel and pro bono attorney network; (2) works towards systemic law and policy changes through governmental advocacy; (3) conducts outreach activities designed to promote self-advocacy within the LGBT community, particularly among LGBT teens; and (4) provides educational training to Maryland lawyers and judges about LGBT legal needs.


News Story

FreeState Justice launches LGBT legal defense fund

Michael K. Lavers
Washington Blade (DC)
November 29, 2017
FreeState Justice said it has seen “an increase in requests for help” in 2017. It also notes lawyers who volunteer their time with the organization have worked on nearly 150 discrimination cases in the state this year.

News Story

Transgender Inmate Wins Historic Case Against Prison Guards Who Assaulted Her

Gabby Bess
September 25, 2015
Administrative Law Judge Denise Shaffer found that officials at the Maryland Institution violated Brown's rights under the Prison Rape Elimination Act.

News Story

A Trans Prisoner Sued Her Prison—and Won a Victory for Trans Inmates Across the Country

Mark Joseph Stern
September 28, 2015
In an emphatic ruling, Judge Denise Oakes Shaffer affirmed the rights of trans inmates under a federal law called the Prison Rape Elimination Act.

News Story

Keep Transgender Prisoners Out of Solitary Confinement

Emily Zak
September 27, 2015
A Maryland judge recently ruled that the rights of Sandy Brown, who was kept in administrative segregation for 66 days, were violated under the Prison Rape Elimination Act.

News Story

Trans Woman Wins Historic Victory for the Protection of Maryland Inmates

Rebecca McCray
September 26, 2015
Corrections staff violated the inmate’s rights under the Prison Rape Elimination Act, a judge ruled.

News Story

This transgender woman won a court victory over the Maryland prison system that abused her

Nidhi Prakash
September 25, 2015
A transgender woman who was sexually harassed and tormented by prison guards while being held in state prison won a court case against the Maryland prison system in a landmark case, her lawyers told reporters yesterday.

News Story

Prisons Treat Transgender Inmates Like Shit — This Lawsuit Could Change That

Avi Asher-Schapiro
September 25, 2015
A judge in Maryland has forced prison officials to overhaul their treatment of transgendered inmates, after a transgender prisoner reported repeated sexual abuse at the hands of correctional officers in a maximum-security prison.

Blog Post

Judge Rules in Favor of Transgender Inmate Who Alleged Harassment

Jacob Gershman
Wall Street Journal (WSJ)
September 25, 2015
An administrative judge ruled that a Maryland prison’s treatment of a transgender inmate violated federal regulations, ruling that she deserved compensation as a result.

News Story

Trans Woman Wins Landmark Ruling Against Maryland Prisons

Cleis Abeni
September 25, 2015
A Maryland judge ruled that transgender woman Sandy Brown's rights were violated by jail officials who locked her in solitary confinement for 66 days and sexually harassed her.

News Story

Trans inmate taunted and held in solitary for 66 days while prison decided whether she was female

David Ferguson
Raw Story
September 24, 2015
A trans woman named Sandy Brown won a legal victory after she spent 66 days in solitary confinement at a Maryland detention facility. This was the first successful prosecution of a case for a trans inmate filing suit under PREA advocates say.

News Story

Woman Who Spent 2 Months In Solitary Confinement For Being Transgender Scores Legal Victory

Christopher Mathias
Huffington Post
September 24, 2015
A Maryland woman who was mistreated by prison guards and held in solitary confinement for over two months solely because she is transgender has scored a groundbreaking legal victory.

News Story

Transgender inmate wins court victory in Maryland

John Riley
Metro Weekly (DC)
September 24, 2015
A transgender inmate from Maryland will receive compensation for the humiliation and abuse she received at the hands of correction officers. A judge ruled that her treatment violated national standards for the protection of transgender prisoners.

News Story

Judges Rules Against Jail Whose Staff Systematically Sexually Harassed Trans Inmate

Zack Ford
September 24, 2015
For the first time, a transgender inmate has won a legal victory under the Prison Rape Elimination Act.

News Story

Judge: Maryland prison mistreated transgender inmate

Associated Press (AP)
September 24, 2015
A legal victory forces the Maryland prison system to better train for how to treat transgender people.

News Story

Judge issues landmark ruling in favor of trans inmate

Michael K. Lavers
Washington Blade (DC)
September 24, 2015
An administrative judge has issued a landmark ruling in favor of a transgender woman who claimed guards at a Maryland prison taunted and humiliated her.

News Story

Transgender inmate wins suit against Maryland prison officials

John Clarke
Reuters News Service
September 24, 2015
A transgender inmate who says guards called her an animal and encouraged her to kill herself has won a legal battle against Maryland prison officials in the first successful lawsuit of its kind against a U.S. correctional facility.

This page last modified: Wed, July 6, 2016 -- 4:43 pm ET