Sierra Castle, a transgender woman, has filed a lawsuit against Cobb County after she was allegedly mistreated while confined at Cobb County Jail.
It all began on March 28, 2018 when Castle called the police because her car was damaged a week earlier. When she met a police officer in the parking lot where her vehicle was damaged, he checked her name for warrants and discovered a bench warrant because she didn’t pay a $15 seatbelt fine.
Castle was arrested shortly after that and taken to the Cobb County Adult Detention Center. However, she was placed in the men’s area of the jail even after she told the officer she was transgender.
According to the lawsuit, a male correction officer told her that she would be considered male while in jail and gave her a pat-down search. When she wanted to use the phone, they only permitted her to use male-designated phones. When she refused to do this, she wasn’t allowed to use the phone at all.
Castle also claims she was harassed by other detainees and had to put up with “sexually-degrading, harassing, abusive and threatening comments.”
One staff member in the jail sympathized with Castle and put a barrier over her cell door. However, this caused Castle to be in total isolation. She couldn’t see anything other than the inside of her holding cell.
During her stay in jail, Castle tried to ring the intercom button to inform staff members that she needed to take a medication. However, she claims the staff ignored her and didn’t give her the medication she needed. She was released later that day after someone paid her fine.
Cobb County, Sheriff Neil Warren, and Col. Janet Price are named in the lawsuit. Castle accuses them of violating her constitutional rights, intentionally causing her emotional distress and discriminating against her.
Dominique Morgan, national director of Black and Pink, which supports LGBTQ people in prison, said her organization hears stories of similar treatment of transgender people all over the United States.
“Either these women are having to choose to be in solitary confinement — no matter what the system calls it, administrative segregation, it’s separation from the general population — or they’re being put in spaces where their body is inherently in danger,” she said.