Over A Dozen Rikers Island Staff To Face Disciplinary Action Over Layleen Xtravaganza’s Death

June 27, 2020  |  

USA - Prisons - Vernon C. Bain Correctional Center at Rikers

Source: David Howells / Getty

Over a dozen staff members at New York City’s infamous Riker’s Island Jail will be facing disciplinary action over last year’s death of a transgender woman named Layleen Polanco. According to CBS, 17 staffers will be hit with administrative charges and other actions.

So far, a corrections captain and three officers have been suspended without pay.  Other staff members can expect administrative charges of failing to complete watch assignments, inefficient performance and false logbook entries, the New York Daily News reports.

“The death of Layleen Polanco was an incredibly painful moment for our city,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said about her death. “What happened to Layleen was absolutely unacceptable and it is critical that there is accountability.”

Polanco’s family lawyer David Shanies told the Daily News that they are pleased to hear about action being taken against the jail staff.

“We welcome news of discipline, but until we know the who, what, and how, there is no knowing how meaningful this announcement is,” Shanies said. “If the mayor wants to take meaningful action, he should start by announcing that the City will implement the two dozen reforms urged by the Board of Correction in response to Layleen’s death.”

While in solitary confinement due to a physical altercation with another inmate, Polanco, 27, died of an epileptic seizure in June of 2019. She was awaiting trial and couldn’t afford to pay her $500 bail. In a report released by the Department of Investigation, it stated there was a 47-minute gap where a corrections officer didn’t check in on Polanco. It is a Department of Corrections policy that inmates in solitary confinement be checked on every 15 minutes. After those 47 minutes of not being checked on, Polanco was found dead.

“Even one death in our custody is one too many and this swift and fair determination on internal discipline makes clear that the safety and well-being of people in our custody remains our top priority,”  corrections commissioner Cynthia Brann said in a statement.


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