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Florida Taxpayers Could Be Required to Fund Transition-Related Medical Treatments to Civilly Committed Sex Offenders

When a person has been convicted of a crime and sentenced to prison for a period of time, for the duration of the sentence the convict is only able to exercise a limited number of rights. Our criminal system provides that when a person commits a crime, the state determines that the person may no longer enjoy the rights that others may enjoy because of the criminal actions. The person loses the right to his/her freedom, he/she loses the right to be able to move around freely and enjoy activities at his/her leisure.

Inmates’ Rights: What is Owed to Our Incarcerated Population?

There is currently a movement to determine what rights can still be exercised and which rights may be taken away from those incarcerated. An inmate’s rights are generally dictated by whether or not the courts find it constitutional to take a right away as a result of his/her incarceration. One of the most hotly-debated issues is whether or not a transgendered individual who is incarcerated may be able to receive hormone therapy to transition into the gender that he/she feels most comfortable with.

Florida’s Policy on Treating Gender Dysphoria in its Incarcerated Population

In Florida, there has been a recent push for Florida taxpayers to cover the cost of hormone therapy and other gender-identity treatments for incarcerated individuals, more specifically those who have been convicted of sex crimes and are civilly committed to a facility. The Florida Department of Corrections has stated that they do treat gender dysphoria of their prison population after the person is diagnosed with the psychiatric disorder and hormone therapy is deemed appropriate. The issue, however, relates to violent sex offenders who have been civilly committed to a facility to receive treatment for their violent sexual urges, rather than incarcerated in a prison with the general population.

Sex Offender Submits Motion to Receive Hormone Therapy

The issue hit the Courts, when Erika Hood, who was assigned at birth as a male and with the name Ronald Hood Jr., filed a motion stating that civilly committed inmates suffering from gender dysphoria were denied hormone therapy and other gender-identity treatments. Erika Hood, who was convicted and has been civilly committed for 15 years for her role as a sexually violent predator toward children, believes that being refused treatment is cruel and unusual punishment. Currently there are no measures or policy in place to treat gender dysphoria for transgendered men and women who civilly committed.

Gender Dysphoria: A Recognized Psychiatric Disorder

Gender dysphoria is a recognized psychiatric disorder, where a person believes that he or she was assigned to the wrong sex at birth, he/she feels more comfortable in the other gender, and would like his/her body to biologically reflect that gender. While the state treats other psychiatric disorders that the civilly committed suffer from, there seems to be a de-facto policy against offering treatment to those suffering from gender dysphoria. If the motion moves forward, a ruling in the case could make it a requirement that Florida treat those transgendered inmates who have been civilly committed with hormone therapy or other gender-identity treatments.

Florida is not the only state to deal with medical treatment of the transgendered prison population. The courts have tackled the constitutionality of providing transition-related health care to the incarcerated in the last few years, and most states have found that it is medically necessary.

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale

The rights of the incarcerated and the civilly committed are crucial issues that must be well-defined and delineated. If you or a loved one has been arrested for the commission of a crime, it is important to speak with an experienced defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik who can advocate on your behalf. Contact Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation in the Fort Lauderdale area.

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