McDonald Jailed on Alleged Violations of Conditional Release

January 5, 2012
McDonald Jailed on Alleged Violations of Conditional Release
Supporters Express Concern for McDonald’s Safety in Months Until April Trial, Vow to Continue to Mobilize

Contact: Katie Burgess, Executive Director, Trans Youth Support Network (TYSN), (612) 363-7574; and Billy Navarro, Jr., MN Transgender Health Coalition,, (612) 823-1152

Minneapolis – This afternoon, Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald appeared in court with her community packing the courtroom in continuing support. On Wednesday, January 4, she turned herself in after her parole officer issued a bench warrant for her arrest. McDonald’s parole officer alleges that for twelve hours starting on December 28 through December 29 the electronic monitoring device she is required to wear was tampered with. On December 29 McDonald was required by her parole officer to take a drug test. She tested positive for THC, after passing all prior drug tests since she was conditionally released in September 2011. The results of the drug test are considered a violation of the terms of her conditional release, which include no alcohol or drug use.

In court the defense argued that, in spite of the accusation that McDonald tampered with her electronic monitoring device, it was in fact a mechanical issue. McDonald’s lawyer, Hersch Izek, argued that the court could not prove that McDonald had anything to do with the device failing. The defense asserted that this was McDonald’s first violation and that in drug court it takes at least two positive drug test results for an arrest warrant to be filed. He asked the court to consider lowering her bail from $500,000 so her community would be able to raise money again for her release; given that McDonald is not any more a threat to society then she was before the alleged violations. The defense reminded the court that McDonald already has a job working at a local café and has been trusted to go to and from doctor’s appointments and work in the past with no problems.

Judge Moreno ruled against CeCe and her bail will stay at $500,000. Her trial is not set to start until April 30, 2012. Supporters expressed concern for McDonald’s safety while she waits in jail for her trial to begin, noting that prisons and jails are notoriously unsafe for transgender people especially for transgender woman of color. “This is yet another example of the ways that the legal system has failed to take CeCe’s safety into account,” said Lex Horan of the Trans Youth Support Network. “First, the Hennepin County Attorney charged her with murder, ignoring the violent, racist assault she experienced; and now Judge Moreno is putting her back in jail without taking into account the risk to her safety. The deck has been stacked against CeCe since the moment of her arrest. People of color & trans people experience harsher treatment in every arena of the legal system, from arrest to bail costs to treatment in the courtroom to sentencing. CeCe being sent back to jail is just another example of how she’s been set up all along.”

Although McDonald was given less than 24 hours’ notice of today’s court proceedings, around twenty of her family members and supporters filled the courtroom to remind the prosecution and the judge that McDonald has strong community backing.

“This decision is ridiculous,” said Billy Navarro Jr. of the MN Transgender Health Coalition. “The court can’t even say definitively that CeCe tampered with her monitoring device. All they know is that it wasn’t working right for twelve hours. This is her first violation: there is no way she should have to stay in jail from now through her trial. She should be home with her family and community!”

“I did not think the judge’s ruling was just in this case.” said Ethan Turcotte. “This young woman has developed a network of support that was evident in the courtroom today. I’ll continue to support CeCe and stay connected as she fights the system from within.”

Supporters will continue to spread the word about the injustice McDonald is suffering in the legal system and demand that Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman drop the charges against her. Visit or email for more information. For a media packet with resources for press coverage of McDonald’s case, see



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