ACLU sues Indiana over denial of sex reassignment surgery for inmate who strangled 11-month-old to death

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing the Indiana Department of Corrections on behalf of a transgender inmate, Jonathan C. Richardson, also known as Autumn Cordellionè, who was convicted of strangling his 11-month-old stepdaughter to death in 2001.

A recent Indiana law, adopted July 1, prohibits the Department of Corrections from using taxpayer dollars to fund sex reassignment surgeries for inmates. However, the ACLU argues in the lawsuit, filed on Aug. 28, that the law is a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishment.”

The surgery for Richardson, who is serving out a 55-year prison sentence for reckless homicide, “is a medical necessity,” according to the ACLU lawsuit.

The filing also states Richardson was diagnosed in 2020 with gender dysphoria and prescribed female hormones and testosterone blockers, both of which he has “consistently taken since that time.” Other accommodations provided for the inmate include “panties, make up, and form fitting clothing.”

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“Accordingly, at this point gender-affirming surgery is necessary so that her physical identity can be aligned with her gender identity and so her gender dysphoria can be ameliorated,” the lawsuit states.

“She believes that the only remedy for her persistent gender dysphoria, and the serious harm it causes her, is to receive gender-affirming surgery, specifically an orchiectomy and vaginoplasty,” it said.

Richardson has identified as a woman since 6 years old, the ACLU lawsuit also claims, and the inmate is “a woman trapped in a man’s body.”

According to court documents, Richardson strangled his then-wife’s 11-month-year old daughter to death while she was at work on Sept. 12, 2001. During Richardson’s initial interview with one of the detectives, he was calm and “unemotional” when recounting what happened, court documents from Indiana’s Court of Appeals show. 

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While incarcerated and awaiting trial, correctional officer Lt. James Spence reportedly asked Richardson what he was being charged with, to which Richardson responded, “murder.”

“At that point, another officer checked Richardson’s booking sheet and advised Lieutenant Spence that Richardson was incarcerated for reckless homicide,” court records state. “When Lieutenant Spence relayed that information to Richardson, he stated ‘well all I know is I killed the little f—ing bitch.’”

Richardson’s wife subsequently filed for divorce and a restraining order in October 2001, public records indicate.

The Indiana Corrections Department told Fox News Digital in a statement Thursday it cannot comment on pending litigation.

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Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita told Fox News Digital regarding the lawsuit that hard-working residents “want their tax dollars going toward things that benefit their family or their state as a whole – not surgeries to reverse inmates’ God-given gender.”

“The approximate cost of these surgeries ranges from $10,000 to $150,000. This is not necessary medical treatment – it is an atrocity. This should be common sense, which is something the ACLU continuously ignores. We will not back down and will continue to back the rule of law,” his statement said.

Richardson’s earliest possible release date is December 2027.

Last year, the ACLU won a case against the Federal Bureau of Prisons on behalf of a transgender woman, Cristina Nichole Iglesias, who was imprisoned for threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction.

The ACLU has not responded to a request from Fox News Digital for comment. 

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