Transgender inmate settles OR lawsuit over medical care

Michalle Wright was convicted of attempted armed robbery in 2013

A gavel is shown in a U.S. courtroom (AP)
A gavel is shown in a U.S. courtroom (AP)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – The Oregon Department of Corrections has settled a lawsuit filed on behalf of a transgender inmate who said she was denied medical care.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon said Michalle Wright had been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment because she was denied hormone treatment and counseling.

The suit said Wright was diagnosed with gender dysphoria and has attempted suicide several times while in custody.

In the settlement announced Tuesday, Wright will receive $167,500 in damages. The state is also giving her hormone treatments, will consider transferring her to a women’s prison and will provide surgery if a medical panel determines it’s necessary.

The policy changes apply to all transgender inmates in Oregon prisons.

Following the settlement agreement, ODOC Director Colette Peters made the following statement,

Although ODOC disagreed with many of the allegations in this litigation, we never disputed the basic principles that transgender individuals within our care and custody should have access to quality medical and mental health care, and that they should be treated in a respectful, inclusive manner. The settlement agreement in this case affirms and reinforces ODOC’s commitments to these principles, and allows ODOC to move forward with these commitments without further litigation.”

Wright was convicted of attempted armed robbery in 2013. Her earliest release date is November 2018.

KOIN 6 News contributed to this report