COVID-19 turned what were already inhumane conditions at Rikers Island, New York’s most notorious jail, into a full-blown humanitarian crisis. Prisoners, activists, and legal advocates are demanding it be closed for good.
For years, prisoners, activists, and legal advocates have been drawing attention to the inhumane conditions at Rikers Island, New York’s most infamous jail complex. But the COVID-19 pandemic turned what was already a dire situation at Rikers into a full-blown humanitarian crisis. With cells grossly overcrowded, guards and medical staff largely absent, and an interior crumbling from disrepair, Rikers became a hotbed of contagion and needless death. What’s worse, as Judge Jonathan Lippman recently wrote in The New York Times, “90 percent of the human beings subjected to the appalling conditions at Rikers are there pretrial, many because they cannot afford bail. Almost 1,600 have been waiting for a trial for over a year. Almost 700 have been waiting for more than two.”
In this episode of Rattling the Bars, TRNN Executive Producer Eddie Conway speaks with Olayemi Olurin about the ongoing crisis at Rikers and the renewed wave of outrage from the public and elected officials who are demanding that the jail be closed for good. Olurin is a public defender and staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society and an analyst at the Law & Crime Network.
Pre-Production/Studio/Post Production: Cameron Granadino
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