September 14, 2011 at 6:05 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Corrections officer accused of death threat against trans woman

District police are investigating allegations by a transgender inmate at the D.C. Jail that a correctional officer made death threats against the woman and transgender activist Earline Budd, who conducts sensitivity training for jail personnel.

Silvia Lane, a spokesperson for the D.C. Department of Corrections, which has jurisdiction over the jail, said DOC officials are cooperating with the police investigation and have transferred the officer to another assignment pending completion of the investigation.

“We take this matter very seriously,” Lane told the Blade.

The inmate, Roberta Miller, wrote the complaint by hand on a Department of Corrections complaint form provided to the Blade by transgender activist Jeri Hughes, who has spoken with Miller.

Miller alleges that the corrections officer made death threats against her and Earline Budd, who was not present when the officer made the threats. Budd is known to corrections officers for her work in speaking to the officers and other jail personnel about transgender related issues as part of an official program operated by the DOC.

Miller alleges that the officer has treated her and other transgender inmates in an abusive manner. She states in the complaint that the male officer made the death threats after learning that she had filed an earlier complaint against him for alleged discriminatory treatment against her at the jail and sent a copy of the complaint to Budd.

Hughes said she contacted D.C. police Assistant Chief Peter Newsham about the case after Miller told her about the death threats and asked her for help.

“He took it seriously,” Hughes said.

“We went over to the jail and interviewed a number of people and I think we’re gathering information at this point,” Newsham told WAMU-Radio on Tuesday. “I can’t tell you what the final outcome will be.”

Hughes said police officials told her they believe they have a “solid” case against the officer and were waiting for the United States Attorney’s office to determine whether to move forward with the case.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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