"So full of life." That's how Jimmy Xtravaganza described his friend Layleen Polanco
. But Layleen is no longer here to hear those words. The 27-year-old transgender woman is the latest in a long list of people who have died senselessly in one of the country's most notorious prisons — Riker's Island. It's time to shut this prison down.
Layleen, was being held on $500 bail for a 2017 charge. She was being held in a restrictive housing unit where she was unable to interact with others for almost 20 hours out of the day. It was there, in her solitary confinement cell that officials found her body.
Rikers is a black eye on the face of New York City
and is considered one of the country's worst prisons. Rapes, murders, extorsion, corruption abound within it's facilities, and the culprits aren't just the prisoners, they are the guards as well. From brutal beating murders to mysterious deaths like that of Ms. Polanco, the prison is considered a lost cause by many. So much so that even Mayor Bill de Blasio was forced to promise to shut it down. In 2017, the mayor announced a 10 year plan, that if all his demands were met, would lead to the closing of the massive prison.
Yet, as deaths pile up, and more abuses mount, the monster that is Rikers seems to be growing in strength not the opposite. And each day that passes puts more prisoners and pre-trail detainees in danger.
We shouldn't have to wait 10 years to close this hell hole. It should be shut down now. No more deaths, no more abuses, no more encroachments upon the human rights of the prisoners who call Rikers home. Sign the petition and tell Mayor de Blasio enough is enough. Now is the time to #closerikers.