Thank God that more and more judges are starting to realize that prison abuse, truly atrocious abuse, is the norm all across the land, and they will not swallow attempts by officials to avoid or delay accountability.
Here, a 27 year old transgender lady with epilepsy and schizophrenia died while in jail because she could not post $500 bail on a misdemeanor charge!
Did she die from medical neglect? Did she commit suicide? Did guards beat her to death? Did another inmate kill her? The truth will out!
Excerpts from the Article:
Before a nearly full courtroom Friday, a federal magistrate refused to pause a lawsuit filed by the mother of a transgender woman who died in solitary confinement on Rikers Island last summer. The city had asked to delay the case twice in October, saying it did not want to interfere with the ongoing investigations into Layleen Polanco’s death by the Bronx District Attorney’s Office and the Department of Corrections.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Sanket Bulsara wasn’t buying it.
The city “relied on inapposite authority, misapplied the state of the law, and attempted to invoke privileges in an improper manner,” Bulsara said in Brooklyn today, calling any potential interference during the discovery process with a state investigation totally speculative.
“There are parallel investigations going on all the time,” Bulsara said, going on to emphasize that it was the defendants, not Polanco, who were the subject of the investigations.
Relatives of Polanco said she had epilepsy and schizophrenia before she died at age 27, locked up because she had not been able to pay $500 bail on misdemeanor charges. In New York City, her death has become a rallying cry for criminal justice reform, particularly for black trans women.
The District Attorney’s Office has not issued a report or charged anyone yet, despite having reportedly completed the interviewing and document collection phases of its case.
In Oct. 16 court papers, David Shanies, attorney for the Polanco family, objected to the request for a stay. “It would be … perverse if the city were permitted to block a civil action by declaring that its own ‘investigation’ precludes litigation against it,” he wrote.
Polanco’s mother, Arecelis Polanco, appeared in court Friday with her lawyers in turquoise-rimmed glasses and a black blazer. In Spanish after the proceedings, she said her faith in the U.S. justice system had essentially come full circle. When she first came to the country, she had confidence in the law, but she said the death of her child in jail shattered that trust. She said Layleen gave her “the greatest joy in this world.”
“This judge on this case gave me faith back,” Arecelis Polanco said, her remarks translated by Layleen Polanco’s sister Melania Brown. “It gave me faith that there’s justice in America.”
“I’m not clear that this couldn’t happen again,” he said. “The entire city should be concerned.”
Defendants also include officers, a Corrections Department official, and a doctor. The plaintiffs said they anticipated adding one or two other defendants. “I’m thinking specifically of the officers who were in the housing unit where Layleen died,” Shanies said.
Kimberly Mckenzie, director of outreach and community engagement at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, said she was pleased with Friday’s proceedings. The day was about supporting Layleen Polanco and her family, she explained.
“Our lives matter,” Mckenzie said, “black trans women. This should never happen at the hands of our city.”
The Whole Story