The Associated Press (AP) reports the Justice Department is reviewing its policies on housing transgender inmates in the federal prison system. The review follows the sentencing this week of a transgender woman for her part in planning and carrying out an attack on a Minnesota mosque in 2017.
Emily Claire Hari, who was charged and convicted as Michael Hari, was sentenced to 53 years for her role in the bombing of the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota. She informed prison staff of her gender identity back in December. The Bureau of Prisons’ Transgender Executive Council will determine whether or not she is housed in accordance her gender identity.
Obama administration guidelines recommended that the Council house transgender inmates based on gender identity “when appropriate.” However, the Trump administration reversed this decision, requiring inmates to be housed based on biological sex except for rare cases. The Trump-era policy is still in effect.
A spokesperson for the DOJ told that AP that the Department is dedicated to providing a humane environment for all inmates, “Including providing gender-affirming housing where appropriate.”
Last week, the DOJ launched an investigation in the Georgia state prison system, following reports of assaults committed against LGBTQ+ inmates. USA Today reports that the investigation builds off an inquiry launched in 2016, and comes on the heels of a lawsuit against the state prison system filed by the Southern Center for Human Rights.
The group alleges that conditions in the prison “are so harsh and isolating — and mental health care is so inadequate — that self-injury and violence are common.”