Grant, Jaime M., Lisa A. Mottet, Justin Tanis, Jack Harrison, Jody L. Herman, and Mara Keisling. “Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.” Washington: National Center for Transgender Equality and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 2011, pp. 163-7.
The National Transgender Discrimination Survey is the first comprehensive collection of data that includes responses from transgender and gender non-conforming people across all of the United States and its territories. The survey asks about almost every facet of life, including prison and police experience. The survey breaks down data in order to analyze how various systems, such as prisons, affect trans people when taking into account race, class, and biological sex. The NTDS records rates of physical and sexual assault amongst trans people in prison as well as access to healthcare, such as hormone therapy.
Grinberg, Emanuella. “Layleen Polanco Died of Complications from Epilepsy at Riker’s Island, Autopsy Results Show.” CNN, 31 July 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/31/us/layleen-polanco-rikers-island-autopsy/index.html.
In her article for CNN, Grinberg details the causes of Polanco’s death three months after she was found in her cell in April 2019. Grinberg presents the perspectives of both those affiliated with the jail and of Polanco’s friends and family, which allows for readers to see why Polanco died (epilepsy complications), how those running the jail see her death (a medical complication that was not impacted by the prison), and how her family perceives their loss (Polanco died in solitary confinement from preventable causes).
Lyden, Jason, Kamaria Carrington, Hana Low, Reed Miller, and Mahsa Yazdy. “Coming Out of Concrete Closets: A Report on Black and Pink’s National LGBTQ Prisoner Survey.” Black and Pink, 21 October 2015, version 2.
Black & Pink, a non-profit organization dedicated to dismantling the prison industrial complex, conducted a survey in 2014 of nearly 1,200 incarcerated LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. asking about their experiences within the prison system. In the words of Black & Pink, the report “aims to share that truth by elevating prisoner voices, stories, and leadership to inspire immediate collective action.” This study offers alarming data about how many transgender inmates are placed in solitary confinement, as well as how factors such as race and mental illness correlate to the length of sentencing and whether or not one goes into solitary willingly.
Manson, Josh. “Layleen Polanco’s Death Proves the Cruelty of Solitary Confinement.” Them., 17 July 2019, https://www.them.us/story/trans-incarceration-crisis.
Manson takes an argumentative approach to Polanco’s death in their article. Manson does not entertain the perspective of the affiliates of Rikers Island and takes the stance that Polanco was inarguably placed in solitary confinement, and that the isolation had to do with her death. While still describing the details of Polanco’s arrest and death, Manson also gives an overview of how transgender women, particularly of color, are treated within the prison industrial complex in general.
Stevenson, Bryan. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. Spiegel & Grau, 2014.
Stevenson’s nonfiction work details his experiences as a lawyer seeking justice for victims within the prison industrial complex. In chapter 8, he tells the story of Ian Manuel, who was placed in solitary confinement at 13 after being sentenced to life in prison for assault. His term in solitary was meant as protection from those in adult prison that were likely to sexually and physically abuse him, but during his confinement, Manuel became a threat to himself as his mental health deteriorated. Stevenson’s work is relevant to my essay because cases of transgender women like Layleen Polanco in solitary confinement draw similarities to those like Manuel’s, and are exactly the scenarios that Stevenson would seek justice for.
Andasheva, Faroat. “Aren’t I a Woman: Deconstructing Sex Discrimination and Freeing Transgender Women from Solitary Confinement Comments.” FIU Law Review, vol. 12, no. 1, 2017 2016, pp. 117–50.
Andasheva takes a reformist stance, stating that “the prison system in the United States needs to develop more effective policies regarding housing transgender inmates, not leaving them with limited options of either remaining in the often-hostile general population or spending their incarceration period in isolation” (149). She explains how transgender inmates are often forced into solitary for “protection,” when in actuality solitary confinement has devastating effects on mental and physical health and transgender inmates are subjected to sexual and physical violence from guards that isolation is supposed to protect them from. Andasheva provides the modern legal justifications for the housing practices of transgender inmates along with solutions to reform the prison industrial complex to make it more “trans-friendly.”
Arkles, Gabriel. “Safety and Solidarity Across Gender Lines: Rethinking Segregation of Transgender People in Detention Symposium – Intersections of Transgender Lives and the Law.” Temple Political & Civil Rights Law Review, vol. 18, no. 2, 2009 2008, pp. 515–60.
Arkles, an attorney and pioneer legal advocate for transgender people, gives an extensive overview of the violence transgender people face in prison from the human and the legal perspectives. He argues that instead of solitary confinement, “community building, relationships, and freedom” are what will reduce violence in prisons (518). His second main point is that prison staff are the primary perpetrators of violence against transgender inmates, not other incarcerated people, making the protection justification for solitary confinement null (518).