Yesterday, a coalition of advocacy organizations sent a letter urging Governor Pritzker to step in and help save the life of Janiah Monroe, a Black transgender woman currently forced into solitary confinement at Logan Correctional Center and at risk of ending her life.
Addressed to Governor JB Pritzker and Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton, the letter asks them to immediately require “the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) to end the extended and unnecessary segregation of Janiah Monroe, a Black transgender woman, and to provide Ms. Monroe with the surgery she desperately needs.”
“Ms. Monroe has had to fight for years to get IDOC to recognize her as a woman—for even the most basic medical care and for transfer to a female prison. Even now, her fight continues, as IDOC continues to discriminate against Ms. Monroe by isolating her at Logan Correctional Center and denying her surgery. If IDOC does not immediately reverse its course and provide Ms. Monroe with the human interaction and medical care she needs, she is very likely to die,” the letter continues.
Ms. Monroe is a plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit Monroe v. Baldwin filed on behalf of five women who are transgender and detained in Illinois prisons, aimed at reforming the larger systemic crisis regarding how IDOC treats the hundred or more transgender prisoners in its facilities throughout the state. In addition, earlier this year, the Uptown Peoples’ Law Center and the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center successfully sued to move Ms. Monroe to a women’s correction facility due to the horrific abuse and numerous sexual assaults she endured at Pontiac Correctional Center.
Yet, even after Ms. Monroe was moved to Logan Correctional Center, IDOC staff continues to hold Ms. Monroe in solitary confinement and refuses to use her female name and pronouns, calling her “it,” or “whatever the f___ you are.” Most recently, Ms. Monroe attempted to take her life on October 6, 2019.
The letter ends by noting that while Ms. Monroe’s lawyers have asked a federal judge to order relief for Ms. Monroe, the coalition urges Governor Pritzker to “require IDOC to take the initiative to address Ms. Monroe’s dire circumstances rather than waiting for the court to order it. Absent immediate action, we fear that Ms. Monroe’s extreme suffering will lead her to take her own life.”
The organizations signing onto the letter include:
AIDS Foundation Chicago
American Friends Service Committee Chicago
Black and Pink Chicago
Center on Halsted
Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation
Chicago Chapter of the National Organization for Women
Chicago Community Bond Fund
Chicago Abortion Fund
Chicago Foundation for Women
Children and Family Justice Center
Friends Who March
Indivisible Oak Park Area
Midwest Access Coalition
Moms United Against Violence and Incarceration
Planned Parenthood of Illinois
Pride Action Tank
She Votes Illinois
Shriver Center on Poverty Law
Unitarian Universalist Prison Ministry of Illinois
Women’s Connection Project
Women’s March Illinois