New York, NY — On Wednesday, June 26, Progressive Caucus and Women’s Caucus sent a letter to the Mayor’s office, Department of Corrections, Board of Corrections, and the Bronx District Attorney’s office demanding answers around the death of Layleen Polanco, a 27-year-old transgender woman who died earlier this month while in solitary confinement at Rikers Island. The Caucuses are seeking answers immediately around the circumstances of her untimely death and are calling for a number of reforms with regard to the treatment of incarcerated people in New York City jails. 

Among the Progressive Caucus’ demands is a call for the medical examiner to release an expedited public report on the cause of death. The City has said previously that it will require 12 weeks for an autopsy to determine the cause of death, which the Caucus finds unacceptable.

Additionally, the Caucus believes that the City must take immediate action to improve the welfare of those incarcerated in New York City jails. This includes ending the practice of solitary confinement at Rikers, as well as the Mayor signing legislation that would provide support to incarcerated transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers.

The proposed legislation includes:

Int 1513 and 1514 – By Council Member Ayala, which would increase access to mental health and substance use treatment for transgender, gender nonconforming, non-binary, and intersex individuals

Int 1530 – By Council Member Moya, which would require reporting by the Department of Correction on housing decisions made for transgender, gender nonconforming, and intersex individuals 

Int 1535 – By Council Member Rosenthal, which would require the Board of Correction to convene a task force to address policies related to the treatment of transgender, gender non-conforming, non-binary, and intersex individuals in Department of Correction custody

The Caucuses of the New York City Council demand immediate action and progress on the above policy changes and accountability measures so that women like Layleen can thrive in New York City.


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