Bring Hannah Home
Bring Hannah Home
Hannah Finnegan is a transgender woman who has spent the past 13 years in Illinois men’s prison. She has endured years of abuse and harassment, and has even been raped. Earlier this year, Hannah went on a 14-day hunger strike to secure a safe housing assignment for herself in men’s prison. In July 2021, prison officials finally acknowledged how inhumane it was to continue to house Hannah in men’s prison and transferred her to women’s prison.
While Hannah's family and supporters applaud the decision to move Hannah to women’s prison, enough is enough. Real justice can be achieved only if Governor JB Pritzker commutes her sentence her sentence and allows her to come home.
A Criminalized Survivor Of Abuse
Like so many women in Illinois prisons, Hannah is a criminalized survivor of abuse. In 2008, when Hannah was 20 years old and suffering from trauma-related mental illness, Hannah killed her mother. This terrible act occurred only because Hannah’s mother, who also suffered from mental illness, had sexually abused Hannah throughout her youth. Although the abuse was hidden from Hannah’s family, it was documented in DCFS records, police reports, and medical records. Tragically, the system designed to protect Hannah could not keep her safe. The abuse persisted for years, and Hannah’s mental health deteriorated to the point that she did the unthinkable.
Hannah was horrified by her act of violence and confessed to the police. She took responsibility, pleading guilty but mentally ill to first degree murder. She was sentenced to 22 years in prison.
A Rehabilitated Model Prisoner
For the past 13 years, Hannah has been consumed with remorse over her offense. With the unwavering support of her family and friends, however, she has been able to channel her remorse into healing and self-improvement. Her mental health has been restored and she has made the best possible use of her time in prison.
Among other accomplishments, Hannah earned an associates’ degree with summa cum laude honors and worked as a tutor for GED students at her prison. As a life-long computer geek, Hannah also provided technical support for her prison's educational program, helping instructors set up classroom computers and writing computer programs to help instructors teach classes.
In 2013, Hannah came out to prison staff as transgender. Taking this step allowed Hannah to finally live openly as her true self, but it also subjected her to terrible abuse and mistreatment by staff and prisoners alike. She was ostracized and sexually objectified by nearly all of her incarcerated peers. In response, prison administrators designated Hannah “vulnerable,” which was appropriate, but also limited her ability to participate in jobs and other programs in men's prison.
Despite these challenges, Hannah has worked hard to maintain a positive mindset. She has inspired her cisgender incarcerated peers, has been a friend and mentor to other transgender prisoners, and has even helped educate prison staff on how to appropriately interact with trans women. She was recently accepted into a bachelors' degree program at Northeastern Illinois University, that she will be able to complete in prison or in the community.
A Crime Victim Further Harmed By Hannah's Incarceration
Although Hannah’s family was completely devastated by her offense, they never wanted Hannah to go to prison—they wanted her to get help so that they could heal as a family. They supported Hannah throughout the criminal prosecution and have continued to support her during her incarceration.
As Hannah’s brother David Finnegan wrote eloquently in his clemency support letter to Governor Pritzker, he has experienced unimaginable pain around the loss of his mother, and Hannah’s incarceration has only made that pain worse. Hannah is his best friend and the most important person in his life and he needs her out of prison to grieve the loss of their mother. David will never heal or be restored while Hannah is in prison because he loves and worries about her so much.
No one is served by Hannah’s continued incarceration. It only causes additional harm.
Please sign and share this petition to join David and Hannah’s team of supporters in asking Governor Pritzker to bring Hannah home.
Image created by artist Carson Egbert.
[Image description: a cartoon drawing of Hannah Finnegan, a white woman with long blonde hair and glasses, and her brother David, a white man with short brown hair and glasses. They are sitting in a living room with a game chess between them, and they are both contemplating their next move while resting their chin on their hands. There is a piano and a lamp in the background.]