Mother of Trans Woman Who Died at Rikers Files Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit Against New York City

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Mother of Trans Woman Who Died at Rikers Files Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit Against New York City

The mom of a transgender girl who died whereas in pre-trial detention at New York’s notorious Rikers Island jail complicated filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in opposition to the City of New York on Monday.

Layleen Polanco was 27 years outdated when she was discovered unresponsive inside her cell within the Rose M. Singer Center on the island-jail facility. She had epilepsy and schizophrenia, circumstances which her mom, Aracelis Polanco, alleges had been allowed to exacerbate because of the negligence of corrections officers, in the end contributing to her untimely demise.

Aracelis Polanco claimed within the lawsuit that her daughter’s demise on June 7 occurred on account of “personnel [who] failed to provide her safe housing, adequate medical care, and proper accommodation for her disabilities.”

Her daughter was assigned to a particular housing unit for transgender ladies, however she was quickly transferred to a restrictive housing unit after officers mentioned she engaged in a bodily altercation with one other inmate. Former inmates have described this restrictive unit as tantamount to solitary confinement.

Around the time of her confinement to the restrictive housing unit, Layleen suffered a head harm, and her mom alleged that corrections officers and healthcare officers had been conscious of her harm, however did nothing to deal with it.

Several days later, Layleen was found unresponsive in her cell. The lawsuit accuses corrections officers of knocking on her door earlier than strolling away as soon as they didn’t obtain a response from Layleen. One inmate is cited as having remarked that officers mentioned Layleen was “asleep.”

Hours later, jail employees returned to Layleen’s cell the place she was discovered dead, her physique allegedly chilly to the contact.

Mother of Trans Woman Who Died at Rikers Files Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit Against New York City
People stroll by an indication on the entrance to Rikers Island on March 31, 2017 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty

In her lawsuit, Aracelis asserts that epilepsy sufferers require round the clock monitoring to forestall suffocation and different life-threatening hazards that may happen throughout a seizure. The restrictive items do not afford inmates this heightened stage of consideration from medical employees.

The motion in federal court docket formally accuses the City of New York, jailhouse personnel and medical employees of negligence which disadvantaged Layleen of her civil rights beneath the Fourteenth Amendment. The go well with additionally prices the respondents with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act over their alleged failure to accommodate Layleen’s medical wants.

Layleen is believed to be the tenth trans girl of coloration to die from situations of alleged violence or neglect in 2019 alone. A 2018 report from the State Commission of Correction listed Rikers as among the many state’s 5 most troubled services.

“Rikers Island continues to be plagued by managerial failures, significant structural problems, regulatory compliance failures, identified deficiencies that remain unaddressed, and unabated harm to both staff and inmates alike,” the report from the federal government watchdog discovered. “The Commission has sought to assist Rikers management in addressing these and many other deficiencies, and facilitate improvements, but those efforts have not been successful, further highlighting the need for closure of all jail facilities located on Rikers Island.”

In 2017, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced his intent to deliver in regards to the closure of Rikers, placing forth a 10-year plan that will see the services on the island shutter amid a push to cut back incarceration charges.

The New York City Law Department didn’t reply to a request for remark.

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