Trans Woman Wins Landmark Ruling Against Maryland Prisons

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 (Maryland)

Cleis Abeni
September 25, 2015

Tags: LGBTQ, Prisoners Rights, Solitary Confinement

Organizations mentioned/involved: FreeState Justice (MD)


For the first time, a transgender inmate has successfully relied upon the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act for legal redress, receiving $5,000 in damages Thursday for the violation of her rights while she was held in a Maryland prison.

Administrative Law Judge Denise Oakes Shaffer ruled in August that Maryland’s prison system violated the rights of Sandy Brown, a transgender woman, when she was placed in solitary confinement for 66 days and tormented by guards who sexually harassed her by taunting surveiling her while she showered and, in one instance, told her to commit suicide, according to an Associated Press investigation.

“She told me I should kill myself, and that I’m not a woman, that I’ll never be her,” Brown recounted in the AP report about Sergeant Dawn Halsey, a corrections officer who tormented her.