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Committee To Decide Where To Assign Transgender Inmate

SKOKIE, Ill. (CBS) -- A special committee meets Thursday to decide where to put a transgender inmate.

Maribel Torres, 41, was born male and was originally named Jose Torres, but she now identifies as a woman.

At a hearing this week in the Skokie Courthouse, she was sentenced to four years behind bars after pleading guilty to theft charges. She stole a $2,000 Burberry handbag from a Nordstrom's in Skokie in 2008, and knocked down a security guard who tried to halt her, the Chicago Tribune reported.

She also admitted at the Tuesday hearing to stealing more than $1,000 worth of makeup from a store in Deerfield the following year, the Tribune reported.

For the past 10 years, Torres has identified as female, and she has taken hormone treatments to enhance her feminine features. But she has not undergone gender reassignment surgery.

While being held at the Cook County Jail awaiting trial, Torres was initially housed in the male section. But she was later moved to a special unit where she underwent drug and counseling services, the Tribune reported.

Prisoners are legally allowed to request to ben in male or female sections, but the special Gender Identity Committee will have the final say. The committee will be composed of medical experts, as well as representatives from the Cook County Sheriff's Department and the Illinois Department of Corrections, the Tribune reported.

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