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NYCLU Statement on Medical Examiner Ruling on Layleen Polanco’s Death

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NEW YORK- New York City medical examiners ruled yesterday that Layleen Polanco, who was held in solitary confinement on Rikers Island, died from epilepsy complications.

Under New York City regulations, incarcerated individuals with serious medical conditions are not to be held in punitive segregation. Despite this, the Department of Correction allowed Polanco, who twice a day took medication for her condition, to be in solitary for nine days.

The NYCLU issued the following statement from Executive Director Donna Lieberman in response:

“Someone with a medical condition as serious as epilepsy should have never been in solitary confinement, period. This tragedy shows the kind of culture permitted by the Department of Correction.”

“It is devastating that had Layleen been able to make her $500 bail, she would not have been in Rikers at all. The inability to pay a few hundred dollars may have meant life or death. We must end the city’s over-reliance on bail and solitary confinement, close Rikers, and reform the culture of punishment, abuse, and neglect in jails.”

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