EAST ST. LOUIS — Strawberry (Deon) Hampton, an inmate at the Lawrence Correctional Center, was granted a 2020 jury trial date in her lawsuit against Illinois Department of Corrections officials from the Pinckneyville Correctional Center for alleged abuses she says she suffered because of her status as a transgender woman.
The suit, which will be heard in court March 16, 2020 in East. St Louis, is one of two that were filed by Hampton. The second was resolved earlier this month against members of the Menard Correctional Center and was also for abuses by guards — she recounted multiple beatings and sexual abuse at the hands of correctional officers in her time at the prisons. This matter was resolved during a preliminary injunction hearing.
Hampton is currently serving a 10-year sentence for burglary.
As part of the case’s settlement, Hampton was sent to Lawrence, a facility already housing other transgender inmates and which also has support networks in place for people who identify as transgender.
The injunction hearing was held in order to deal with what the plaintiff deemed to be immediate concerns for her well-being. During the first day, some of the details of her suit against officers at Pinckneyville were revealed.
During her testimony Jan. 5, Hampton alleged she suffered several incidents of abuse at the hands of corrections officers — verbal and physical.
There are also allegations in the suit's original complaint of retribution for Hampton filing complaints through official IDOC channels.
The complaint filed with the court last year lays out nine total charges including a violation of the Hate Crime Act, as well as violations of Hampton’s first, eighth and 14th Amendment rights and accuses a list of more than 20 defendants.
As for the extended timeline of the case, Hampton’s attorney Alan Mills, executive director of the Uptown People’s Law Center, said this is not uncommon in civil rights cases. He said they have to be slipped in between criminal cases which have a much stricter timeline due to the defendants’ right to a speedy trial.
Part of Hampton’s settlement of her other case against IDOC personnel was transfer to Lawrence and Mills came short of saying this was going swimmingly.
“It’s certainly better than Menard was,” Mills said.
He said they are still trying to smooth out the rough parts for their client.
“We are still talking about the transition with the defendant,” Mills said. “We hope that those talks will be fruitful.” He declined to go into specifics about the talks and would not say if further motions in that case were planned to be filed.
After the resolution of the case against Menard was finalized Jan. 9, Mills said he and his team have retained the right as part of the settlement to again sue IDOC based on any noncompliance with the agreed upon terms.
In the Trial Practice Schedule filed Wednesday announcing the jury setting, there were several deadlines, including a July 1, 2019, deadline for all discovery to be filed.