Colorado settles suit by transgender inmate who alleged rape

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Colorado officials say they have reached a $170,000 settlement in a lawsuit filed by a transgender woman who alleged being raped, assaulted and harassed at a men’s prison.

Lindsay Saunders-Velez self-filed the lawsuit in 2017 after entering the prison system for violating her plea deal in a menacing case. Attorneys who later joined the case said the 21-year-old’s experience demonstrated threats faced by transgender inmates around the country.

The agreement does not force broad policy changes but Paula Greisen, an attorney for Saunders-Velez, says the lawsuit led state officials to make changes aimed at improving prison conditions for transgender inmates, including staff training.

In written statements, Attorney General Phil Weiser and Department of Corrections Executive Director Dean Williams say that work continues.

The funds will be held until Saunders-Velez’s release.

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