Rikers Island, located in New York City, is one of the most notorious jails in the country. Despite an effort to fix the jail facility, its horrible conditions left Mayor Bill de Blasio no choice but to close it down for good.
Nothing but horror stories surround the facility. One example being the story of Kalief Browder, a 16-year-old who spent 3 years in the facility. In 2010, Browder was walking home one evening when the police abruptly arrested him. It turns out that a complete stranger accused Browder of robbing him a few weeks earlier. Even though he was never convicted, Browder’s family couldn’t make the $10,000 bail and he was sent to Rikers.
In an instant, Browder’s life changed. He told New York City’s ABC7, “I didn’t get to go to prom, graduation, nothing. I’m never going to get those years back. Never.”
At Rikers, Browder said that he spent over 400 days in confinement and attempted suicide six times. It wasn’t until 2013, were the charges dropped and he became a free man. Still, he never got an apology for having to endure the unspeakable conditions at Rikers.
In October of 2013, Browder filed a civil lawsuit complaining that officers and other inmates had beaten him, and he was deprived of meals. The official complaint also states that some officers prevented him from carrying on with an education.
Upon his release, Browder’s family knew he wasn’t the same person he was before he ended up at Rikers. Instead of playing video games, he would pace about his bedroom as if he was still confined to a jail cell. He also showed symptoms of causing self-harm. He eventually committed suicide in 2015.
The closing of Rikers island is an example of where criminal justice issues stand in the country. This is a huge step in the right direction for many caught in the school to prison pipeline.