Riker’s Island. The Rock. Adult inmates refer to the savage juvenile building as “Vietnam.” Actually a penal colony of 10 separate jails, the Rock is the second-largest confinement facility in the entire world. When it comes to putting people in cages Cali is king, but the Big Apple gives it a serious run for its money with Riker’s. The Rock has been a jail sine 1884, and has been overcrowded almost continuously since that time.
Most of the jails are dilapidated. They ran out of room to hold all the inmates, so there are huge prison barges anchored there to hold the overflow- one purpose-built, 2 modified British troop transports decommissioned after the Falklands War; and also two converted ferry boats (built in 1930) were used until 2003.
3 guards were handed a 58-count indictment earlier this year for running what known as “The Program.” Here’s how it worked: the guards took a group of Bloods and trained them how to deliver beatings while making sure injuries were hard to notice. This group was known as “the Team.” The Team was responsible for handing down punishments for things the guards didn’t like- one boy was beaten half to death with broom handles for taking too long on a phone call. They also went forth in search of new recruits for the Team, they would ask inmates “are you with it” or “are you down with it,” if the answer was “no” or “down with what” a crushed eye socket or collapsed lung was the result. As compensation, Team members were allowed to extort whatever money, food, or toiletries they could find from nonmembers; and were allowed exclusive access to things like TV time and phone calls. Between July and October of 2008 the unit was locked down as a result of Program-related violence an average of once every three days.
Documents show that higher-ups at the jail were regularly briefed about the Program.
One 18 year old was killed by the Team.
Bronx Assistant DA James Goward posted:
They turned jail into almost a nightmare environment.
One woman was tied up and gang-raped with a foreign object, and officials “won’t talk about” how inmates managed to get into her single cell without guards noticing or putting a stop to it.
This won’t be the first time Riker’s will have to pay many tens of thousands of dollars as a result of guard-sanctioned violence. Previous settlements of $500K and $100K, and many more suits pending seem to indicate a pattern.
As many as 150,000 inmates were wrongfully and improperly strip-searched in violation of a 2002 court order (which itself cost the NYC taxpayers over $50M).