CeCe McDonald to be incarcerated in male prison -- at least for now [VIDEO]
Chrishaun "CeCe" McDonald, a transgender woman who pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter last month, will be incarcerated in a male prison, at least for now.
McDonald was arrested last summer for fatally stabbing Dean Alvin Schmitz outside the Schooner Tavern in South Minneapolis. The Hennepin County Attorney's Office charged McDonald with second-degree murder, though she argued she was the victim of an attack that night, and acted in self defense.
Read more in our May 9 cover story, "The Edge of Doubt."
In May, on the third day of her trial, McDonald pleaded to the reduced charge. Per the terms of the plea agreement, she was sentenced to three years and five months in prison Monday, minus 275 days already served.
Because she was housed in a male jail, McDonald will initially be transferred to the St. Cloud prison, a male facility, says John Schadl, spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Corrections.
"As a transgender person we will evaluate him to ensure that he has an appropriate placement for his incarceration," says Schadl.
Per City Pages' request, Schadl sent over the guidelines on placing transgender individuals. Here's the policy:
The department will evaluate and place offenders who claim to be undergoing transgender or transsexual-related treatment, offenders who appear to be gender-variant, or offenders having other clinical conditions in which the gender assignment is unclear. The department will not provide surgical services for the advancement of sexual reassignment therapy. When indicated by appropriate health services staff, the department will provide gender-related mental health services and other medical or mental health therapy as necessary throughout the offender's incarceration.
Michael Friedman, executive director of the Legal Rights Center, which represented McDonald, says the law office is "very concerned about CeCe's safety during her incarceration."
"The DOC must find a way both to ensure CeCe's safety and not isolate her from other prisoners or exclude her from prison programs and activities," says Friedman in an email. "Experts we consulted indicated that isolation can in some instances create a more vulnerable environment for a transgendered prisoner, in addition to being excessively punitive in its psychological consequence."
Since McDonald's arrest, the case has been controversial. Her supporters have long accused the court system of discriminating against McDonald for being black and transgender -- claims Hennepin County Michael Freeman vehemently denies.
Katie Burgess, executive director of the Trans Youth Support Group, says the support group will continue to monitor McDonald's case. "Judging by what I saw of her in court today, and what I know of her, she's probably holding up really well."
Here's footage from a rally the support committee held outside the courthouse today, via Youtube:
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