But at one point he did shoot at me, about a year before that. His time there was horrible. And while convictions have been made in various cases, there has always been this lingering rumor that it still occurred. Once you’re in there, you’re in there. If I went to trial, I would have done the full fifteen years. Reuters was not able to independently verify their statements. And it’s apparent that these attorneys don’t care. I don’t want to be that person. There’s just a really bad vibe. There’s no way around it. You’ve been there ninety days. Storm On Rikers Island is the first book in an ongoing series containing stand-alone stories with continuing continuity. And when they with the adults, it’s much more respect. I don’t want that for him. The island was used as a military training ground during the Civil War. Your time on the phone is limited, which is maybe one of the worst parts. So if you get in a fight with them, you’re gonna end up with broken bones – or worse – and put into segregation. Every set has their own lingo, their own phrase. For those that haven’t been to jail or prison, specifically one that is as notorious as Rikers, the threat and fear of violence from inmates, I would imagine, would be their biggest concern. Rodrigo: I knew people that had been there. I was seventeen years old and hanging out on 115th Street around Park Avenue. The first was that of a father murdered on the street, but the family asked that the son, who was at Rikers, not come to the funeral. If someone wanted extra food and I knew they weren’t supposed to have it, I’d always say no. For me, that was him crossing the line. Eric, 19, who asked his last name not be used, said he was 17 in 2012 when he was held at Rikers Island for committing "a crime which was illegal. That not everyone will always be a bad guy or whatever. If you don’t have any books or a radio – which you could buy in the prison – you start talking to yourself. Was there anything in particular that really shocked you? I remember this kid we called ‘Red’ who was getting extorted and molested by another older inmate. Rodrigo: Rikers Island is a jail. It’s your word against the officers. New York City plans to replace Rikers Island with four new jails by 2027. And while you’d have to be a fool not to be afraid, how to did you cope with that initial feeling of fear when walking into the cell or pod? So this guy walked up to me and started pressing me to give him my information. Hot pots to cook food. I was used to seeing them and my son every day. Legally, every prisoner who has not yet been tried has the right to be present at the funeral or the wake of a close relative. You’re here because you fucked up and they make sure you know it. It is also one of the most troubled. When you were released from prison and got back home, what was the first thing you did? Can you break down the typical social hierarchy in prison? How did they react to you? But not everybody is like that. Drugs, murder, robberies. "After someone is sentenced in New York City, their next stop is Rikers Island. The guard ended up lumping his face up pretty bad to the point where he had to go to the nurse. Karamoko said he attempted to fight back and was beaten by a group of officers who then shot him with pepper spray. How prevalent were the gangs in Rikers during your stay? If you want something, you’re gonna have to give me something. Now a new report from the New York Building Congress suggests Rikers be … In prison, they typically have TVs in the cells. As you were being transported over that bridge, what was going on in your mind? You start screaming at the door. The gang I was in came under a federal investigation for a number of things. That’s how jail and prison works. If I didn’t get locked up, I could have been involved in a lot worse and looking at a lot more time. Jared Peartree said he was 18 when his two-year incarceration at Rikers began in 2013. What was your family like when you got out of prison? There was an internal investigation, and I was pulled from prison to come testify about what I saw. And while in my younger years I had the lovely chance to be a guest at a county jail – a stay that woke my ignorant ass up to where my life was headed – not everyone is so fortunate. I usually woke up around five in the morning. You’d wake up and go to school and see a pool of blood on the sidewalk from someone being jumped or robbed. Prison scars you. But you don’t get it. The American Prison system is, in all ways, a forgotten and broken piece of our society. And I was leaking from my head.”, Karamoko said he was punished for assaulting an officer in the incident and said, "My experience at Rikers Island was crazy. I mean, some people leave prison and come home and get right back into trouble. People can and do change. This guy was one of the Alpha Males in the unit. As a native of New York City, before you went into Rikers, what was your understanding of what went on there? In one incident, Harmon said he was taken to a room without cameras. Watch TV, get on the phone, write your family letters. Rodrigo: Then? Is it broken? Sooner or later, he might come back and I’ll see him. After the year of being at Rikers, you were transferred upstate in order to complete your sentence in prison. Now comes the first night. You’re not seeing anyone. There were a lot of fights that were based just off of race. When he refused, he said, he "got put in a headlock, officers started beating on me, punching me in my head, my body, kicking me, had me in fetal position, stomping on me.”, Directly after the incident Eric said the officers "put me in flexicuffs then they (pepper) spray." For example, the Mexicans in Rikers were notorious for having bangers – shanks – and being very violent. If it happens, hopefully no one that I love will be around. He was there for less than a day. The officers weren’t always going to be there, nor did they really defend you. Rodrigo: When you go to prison, it’s not just you that goes in. We’re just setting them up to fail. There is a smell to prison, says Johnny Perez, a former detainee at Rikers Island-- the vast 400-acre jail complex named for the speck of land adrift in New York's East River on which it sits. They get passed off to Public Defenders and these lawyers already have a shitload of cases. Something that’s in the air. You have people going to prison for petty crimes. One can see its sprawling compound on certain flights out, but for most people, no thought is given to what goes on behind the walls; the lives that are shuffled through while awaiting sentencing, the various insufferable horrors that are committed and sometimes documented in local and national news outlets, which only end up getting buried and forgotten about just as quickly as they occurred. But then it turns into something else. Blacks stayed with Blacks. The guards don’t give a shit about you. “And then they dragged me all the way to the intake. I walked in and it just hit me, “Shit, this is real. It’s a place where you’re held while you’re fighting your case or awaiting sentencing. When I was sleeping after coming home, if someone walked by the room, I would wake up. Vidal explains that Rikers is a "toxic island", built on waste and positioned near the airport The detention centre is due to close by 2026 and … I mean, ninety days isn’t enough time to get used to it. Rikers’ population has swelled significantly since a drop in the summer, with 4,821 inmates on the island as of Dec. 4, according to data from the … Photographer Elizabeth Shafiroff sought out seven of these former inmates to hear their stories, which follow. And I didn’t want to take that risk. Rodrigo: Greene was called “Gladiator School.” Just the name alone, man. The type of discussions that never got too serious and were, to a degree, small chit-chat. What was your typical day like? Rikers Island emergency services personnel walk through one of many gates inside the jail’s juvenile detention facility in New York. Three and half years when compared to the full sentence is nothing. Copyright © 2020 CVLT Nation. Rodrigo: Oh, it’s broken. No TV. You’ve mentioned Alpha Males, and those that are on the top of the food chain, so to speak. You’re looking for that connection with somebody else. When you’re there, it’s not something out of the ordinary. To us, the law-abiding citizens of America, this is a place for people who deserve to be there. PHOTO: A person holds up a picture of Layleen Polanco, a transgender person who died at the Rikers Island prison, during a Black Trans Lives … If he follows down the steps I did, yeah. No. But prison has changed, though. While white supremacy is... For centuries, American culture has been that of recklessness and carelessness for fellow humans; agree or disagree, the facts are the facts. We both really tried to not make it a racial thing. People don’t understand that being in a cell for that amount of time does things to you mentally. He said he was hit by a correctional officer and he struck back. There’s no contact with anyone. One day it just hit me that I wasn’t going home. You’re there, and the idea of getting out is gone. I’m institutionalized, without a doubt. One minute I was here, and the next minute I was gone. 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