A former inmate is suing Rogers State Prison in Georgia for placing her in the same protective holding cell as her rapist and failing to protect her as she was once again sexually assaulted.
Zahara Green, a 25-year-old woman who was put in a men's correctional facility despite the fact that she's been transitioning from male to female since she was 17, says that she initially requested protective custody after she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by Darryl Ricard, an inmate who is serving life in prison for aggravated child molestation, rape, and kidnapping.
Green says that she reported her abuse to prison officials (the prison denies knowing about it) and then requested to be moved to protective holding.
What happened next, as reported by BuzzFeed's Jessica Testa, is truly horrifying:
On Sept. 21, 2012, Green and Ricard were separately admitted into protective custody. According to Green, Ricard was the chief reason she had requested the special security measures. But for still unclear reasons, when Green entered her protective custody cell around 4:30 a.m., "Ricard was waiting" there, the complaint says. "Ricard raped Green, and the Defendants to this action all knew Ricard was going to rape (or at the very least, sexually assault) Green yet permitted Ricard to sexually assault Green." The correction officers allegedly "condoned" the rape.
While guards are supposed to check on inmates every 30 minutes, Green alleges that she went 24-hours before a guard looked in on her. At that time, the guard saw Ricard holding a razor blade and, threatening him with pepper spray, got him to stand down. The inmates were then separated and Green was brought to a nurse who performed a rape kit.
The actions of the prison are in excusable, but — naturally — they're trying to excuse them anyway. Testa writes:
In a court document responding to Green's complaint, a lawyer for the defendants — repeatedly referring to Green as "he" — denied that the deputy warden had read any letter about Ricard's "oral sodomy" of Green. The response noted that Green's mother had contacted the prison about her daughter's safety concerns, but alleged that when asked directly, Green said she "was not afraid." The response also said that Green was "at some point … placed in the same cell as inmate Darryl Ricard."
Following her assault, Green was moved to another facility that houses several trans prisoners in single cells for their own safety. Green told Testa that she felt much safer there than she did at Rogers State Prison. She was then moved once more to Atlanta Transitional Facility and says that her life was dramatically changed for the better.
"I did not think it was possible to find a job as a transgender person in Georgia," Green, who was in prison for theft, told BuzzFeed. "All the trans people I knew were either shoplifting, forging checks, or prostituting. I didn't know a single transgender person who had a job."
The transitional facility, she adds, "opened my eyes to another way."
Green is now out on parole and in school. She is hopeful that her lawsuit will bring about positive and necessary changes for trans inmates.
Read Zahara Green's entire story here.
Image via Daniel DeSlover/Shutterstock.