NYC correction commissioner faces scrutiny over safely housing transgender detainees at Rikers

NYC correction commissioner faces scrutiny over safely housing transgender detainees at Rikers

Metropolis officers are rolling again protections for transgender detainees, leaving them weak to rape, beatings and discrimination at Rikers Island, members of the Metropolis Council and beforehand incarcerated LGBTQ+ people alleged at a listening to on Wednesday.

Testimony at the listening to centered round trans girls and their allies who mentioned that they had been assigned to male items the place they had been assaulted, eliminated for medical remedy, after which introduced again to the identical items, the place they confronted assaults.

Correction Commissioner Louis Molina mentioned an incarcerated one who identifies with a gender that differs from the place they’re housed can enchantment to a crew of jail officers who might switch them to the Particular Consideration Unit at the ladies’s jail at Rikers.

About 75% of these purposes are permitted, in line with Molina, however individuals may be denied for unspecified “security reasons,” felony historical past, or info that implies they’re being deceitful about why they wish to be transferred.

Councilmember Tiffany Cabán mentioned such an strategy is discriminatory as a result of cisgender detainees don’t face the identical scrutiny when housing concerns are being made. Housing that doesn’t match gender identification “has killed people,” Cabán mentioned, “so we need you to do better.”

The listening to started with a second of silence for Layleen Polanco, a trans lady who died in solitary confinement in 2019. Her identify was repeatedly invoked throughout the listening to.

“DOC has continued to fail to provide safe and respectful housing, medical care and support, which has resulted in the tragic deaths of people like Layleen Polanco and countless others,” Councilmember Carlina Rivera mentioned. “We are absolutely just enraged by the DOC’s lack of action.”

Molina defended his division.

“Our practices far exceed probably many of the jurisdictions in America,” he mentioned.

Councilmembers confirmed their frustration with the shortage of information that Molina delivered to the listening to. He didn’t present info on what number of disciplinary instances had been introduced in opposition to officers for violating insurance policies meant to guard LGBTQ+ detainees. He additionally wouldn’t present particulars about employees coaching for working with transgender detainees.

Earlier this week, information outlet The Metropolis revealed a narrative revealing that two of three workers within the correction division’s LGBTQ+ Affairs Unit lately give up in protest. Each labored underneath Molina, who was appointed by Mayor Eric Adams final 12 months. The lone remaining worker didn’t attend Wednesday’s Metropolis Council listening to. Molina mentioned the departures had been merely reflective of bigger attrition traits.

The Metropolis additionally reported that Molina shelved a proposed coverage to align housing with trans detainees’ gender identities. And he forbade members of a process power, which final 12 months issued a report criticizing correction operations on these points, from touring the jails, because it had beforehand achieved.

The Metropolis Council is contemplating a number of payments that will broaden rights afforded to transgender, gender nonconforming, nonbinary and intersex individuals. One would create a assessment board for housing assignments.

One other would enable detainees to decide on the gender of their docs. The Council can be contemplating a decision to assist a state invoice that will require incarcerated individuals to be housed in line with their gender identities moderately than the gender of their start.

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