By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
Shocking images back up what we've been reporting for years: New York City's jails are houses of horror
The Voice has obtained extremely disturbing images from New York City's jail system. These photographs—graphically showing knife wounds and beating injuries to the faces, necks, and arms of inmates—were provided to us by Correction Department sources who want the outside world to know that violence has escalated at Rikers Island.
Four years ago, the Voice first wrote about the violence at Rikers, which was not only condoned but also promoted by jail officials in a disturbing "fight club" that pitted inmates against one another. We were assured by the Correction Department that this practice had stopped, as two jail guards were sent to prison.
Now we have learned that the practice has not stopped.
Some of these images are hard to look at. We know that some readers will object to their being published. But in printing them, the Voice hopes that this time, more officials will take seriously the problem we originally exposed in 2008.
In October 2008, teen inmates beat 18-year-old Christopher Robinson to death as guards looked the other way. The Correction Department launched a major investigation.
The agency interviewed hundreds of teen inmates and concluded that under a practice known as "the Program," guards were deputizing inmates, often in the teen jail, and pitting them against one another in fights as a way to keep order and extort them for phone, food, and television privileges.
In the wake of the scandal, two guards, Khalid Nelson and Michael McKie, were convicted of complicity in the Program and sentenced to short prison terms. A third officer was awaiting sentencing. Twelve inmates were also indicted in the case, with five pleading guilty.
Meanwhile, Correction Department officials claimed they had taken a series of steps that dealt with the problem, including staffing dayrooms with officers and reducing the guard-inmate ratio.
However, several sources, including current and retired investigators, say that the practice is very much still in place, which is backed up by hundreds of internal Correction Department documents obtained by the Voice.
The documents also lay bare the extreme influence that gangs, mostly Bloods, still exert on day-to-day life in the jails—particularly at the Robert N. Davoren Center, where teens are housed and where Robinson was murdered three years ago.
Documents show that inmate leaders known as "the team" control access to the phones; extort phone privileges, commissary allowances, and food from weaker inmates; and even enforce rules on where inmates can sit when watching television in the dayroom. The weakest inmates have to sit on the floor. All of this happens right under the noses of Correction officers.
Violence in the teen jail and in other city jails has also gotten worse, sources say, despite official Correction Department statistics that don't show much of an increase.
And even though the gang-intelligence unit has been a long-standing source of information for both Correction officials and other law-enforcement agencies, the unit has been steadily cut and has seen its tasks limited, gang-intel sources say.
Correction sources lay the blame for the increase in violence at the feet of Commissioner Dora Schriro and Security Deputy Chief Carmine LaBruzzo. Schriro is out of touch, they claim, and LaBruzzo is misleading her about the extent of the violence.
The U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Civil Rights has been investigating violence on Rikers. Correction sources say federal investigators have subpoenaed more than a year's worth of incident reports in the effort. The federal prosecutors office in Manhattan declined to comment.
After the Voice asked for a Correction Department comment on this story, LaBruzzo ordered an effort to find out who was speaking to the media.
"The pictures are brutal, disgusting. These are shocking photos," says Eric Yun, a spokesman for City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, who chairs the committee that oversees the jails. "We need to make sure inmates are safe when they are in our jail. You don't want to think that inmates can be at risk like that."
Correction officials acknowledge that inmates fight about three times a day in RNDC, but they strenuously dispute the notion that what happened in the Robinson case, as far as guards actively encouraging "the Program," has continued. (There hasn't been a homicide in RNDC since 2008.)
"Allegations about a 'Program' today are patently false," Correction spokeswoman Sharman Stein says. "Bullying among adolescents occurs in jail as it does in the community. The department has dedicated considerable resources to substantively address this issue. Recent unsubstantiated and anonymous allegations are without merit and serve only to sensationalize the death several years ago of Mr. Robinson, an adolescent inmate at RNDC, while ignoring the significant measures DOC has taken to appreciably improve the conditions of adolescents in detention."
Stein added that Correction Commissioner Schriro is focused on making the teen jail safer, but it is a difficult population to manage. Some 78 percent of teens are charged or sentenced for violent felonies, compared to 38 percent of the general population, and half of teen inmates have been diagnosed with mental illness. Teens make up 6 percent of the population but are involved in 20 percent of fights.
"This is not a department that is looking the other way," Stein says. "This is a department that is doing everything possible. We are trying to do the best that we can do, to try to make changes and make adjustments. We are always involved in bettering what we do."
They need to put in a pedestrian plaza and a Disney gift shop ... it worked for Times Square. They could rename it Doing Times Square.
Drug the food, drug the water, drug the air.
Take lessons from the Nazi POW camps, DRUG THE PRISONERS, ... KEEP THEM DRUGGED.
I was an inmate before and seen the female officers who uniform is tight long nails hair did up like they going out. If you work around criminals then dress the part. State officers are different guess because their is more white ppl. I visited my son before and dis chick had an attitude for what. Don't like your job QUIT!!!
Got word today my son is in SHU because he was fighting another inmate in the yard and the CO's beat him pretty bad. Going to see if i can visit him tomorrow. Bet they will find a way to not let me see him. Im tired of them officers beating inmates especially those who don't get visits like they have no family.
I think the jail system is deplorable because c. Officers are mote worried about their own little superficial lives then protecting inmates. Also if Rikers island had a polo y where they made mentally I'll patients take their medications instead of an I don't care attitude. There would be less people in jail by slot since Rikers island is the new housing for the mentally I'll why not act like it and make the mentally I'll inmates take their medication duh
I think it's deplorable conditions and I don't understand why Rikers island has a policy of they dont care if a mentally I'll patient takes their prescribed medication which can make an inmates stay in the system much longer than if Rikers island would just make the mentally I'll patient take their medication how can we change these laws
It is not as easy as people may think who are not Correction Officers to control the violence in the jails. The violence is not only towards inmates but to Corrrction Officers as well. And the Commissioner should definitely keep that in mind. Anyone who is in those facilities are in danger every single day!
What is the news. This is how the "rock" has always been run. A few black guards allow "homeys" onto the "House Gang" where they get to choose where their cells are and who else get's on the gang. House gang members(all black or maybe a few latinos in the know" get special privileges for pretending to mop and sweep the floors. Actually the place is kept neater by the birds and probably rats.I was in (I am white but was mistaken for Latino with no english),absolute terror almost all the time , not from direct threats but from a culture of violence and intimidation. This was in 1970. Nothing seems to have changed, though I don't remember a "fight club" though the inamtes would have loved to have one-they were mostly a disgudting and animal like group-most liked prison, also.
REFERENCE: UNITED BLOOD NATION (UBN) RE: CONVERSION OF THE INDEPENDENT NEUTRAL (BGF) STONE TO THE (UBN) BLOODZ (SRG) MEMO TO : EDITOR, MAYOR, GOVERNOR, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER OF SECURITY, COMMISSION AT RIKERS ISLAND, AND PUBLIC SAFETY.
FORMER NYST. DOCS' PRISONER OTIS MICHAEL BRIODGEFORTH (SOL'-O-STONER) s 07A6695 FORMERLY OF ATTICA CORRECTIONAL FACILITY,OWNER EIN#80081899, OF THE BRAND (BGF) BLACK GUERILLA FAMILY, WITH ALL COPY WRITE CONSENT INFORMS RIKERS FACILITY TO LIST THE BGF AS A BLOOD GANG WITHIN THE (UBN) FOR ALL FUTURE PUBLICATION NOTICES, AND CONSIDERATION. THE INACTIVE BGF ORIGINATED ON THE WEST COAST BY G, JACKSON, BRIDGEFORTH'S BRANCH OF THE BGF RE-ORIGINATED INDEPENDENTLY AND NEUTRAL AS A PRIVATE CHAPTER, NOT A OPEN ORGANIZATION, WELCOMING SMALLER DIVISIONS OF HIS BGF. THE MERGE INTO THE (UBN) ALLOWS THE INNER CITY YOUTH ACROSS THE EASTCOAST THE OPPURTUNITY TO START THEIR OWN SMALLER SETS OF BGF UNDER THE (UBN) AND BE CLASSIFIED AS BLOOD GANG MEMBERS. ROGERS ORIGINATED THE FIRST BLOOD GANG BEFORE THE (UBN) EXISTED, BRIDGEFORTH ORIGINATED THE FIRST BLOOD ASSOCIATION WITH MARXIST BELIEFS, UNDER THE (UBN). BRIDGEFORTH ADMITS HE HAS NO DIRECT CONTROL OVER THE DIVISION OF SMALLER BGF GANGS ACROSS THE EAST COAST ALTHOUGH HE IS THEIR LEADER. THE (UBN) WAS FOUNDED AT RIKERS JAIL BY OTHER PRISONERS AT A EARLIER TIME. TO KEEP PRISON TRANSCRIPTS ACCURATE AND TO END CONFUSION, THE BGF SHOULD BE LISTED ON PRISON OFFICIALS INVOICES AS A BLOOD GANG.
ETHNICITY: NONE, BRANCH LEADERS DECISIONGOAL: PROMOTE BROTHERHOOD AND SUPPLY A PATH TO SUCCESS IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY COLORS: BLACK, REDFOUNDER: OTIS MICHAEL BRIDGEFORTH (SOL'-O-STONER) SOLO NYST DIN#07A6695RACE: AFRICAN AMERICAN HEIGHT: 6'0 180 ILBS AGE:28ACTIVE MEMBERS: NO CHART LISTEDDIRECT AFFILIATION TO OTHER SETS WITHIN THE UBN: NO AFFILIATION LISTEDPURPOSE: BGF WILL ACT AS A MASTER SET, CONTROLLING THE JUEVINILES AND YOUNGER SET MEMBERS., IN THE INNER CITY'S THROUGHOUT THE EAST COAST, AND WITHIN THE PRISON SYSTEMS.COLORS: BLACK/REDSYMBOL: BLACK DRAGON WITH BGF ABBREVIATION AND WORDING DISPLAYED OVER TOP.FOUNDING DATE: JUNE 3RD, 2012FACTOR: BRIDGEFORTH A FREEDOM FIGHTER SAYS 07 AND 011 WERE GREAT YEARS IN THE NYST. SYSTEM DECREASING THE CRIME RATE SUFFICIENTLY. HIS FREEDOM FIGHTING WAS ACCEPTED WITH IN THE COURTS, AND ATTORNEY'S OFFICES.
OTIS MICHAEL BRIDGEFORTHOWNERWWW.SOLOVICECITYFINEST.WEBS.COM YOUTUBE/THEBAULSOLO 6/3/2012
Don't want to end up in Rikers? Then don't do bad things. And we all know what those bad things are!
Ppl tht judge CO's kill me! U can u talk shit nd u neva workd in jail! U fkn serious! I been a CO on Riker's for 24 yrs nd ima female. I neva had sex wit an inmate or done stupid sht i'd b embarassed of! Nd i been happily married for 15yrs! Becuz a inmate was mad nd i was standin thre i got spit on! I guess thts ok in ur world! Com frm behnd ur cozy desk job nd stop suckn ur boss d**k nd take tha test! Thn judge!
I find it funny that people pick on NYC's jails.People who have never been there act like they know.You sit in our brownstone and defend inmates.You act like your child is an angel.He's not.These are the same people that rob you on the street.Rape your sisters and punch your grandma in the face for her 10 dollars.The same people you fear on your street corner.The ones you know are up to no good.Violence is a part of society regardless of being in jail or not.These are gang members.They are out to get each other and I cannot stop it.If I do,they will find another way,another day to do it.It will never stop.Inmates make weapons faster than we can recover them.Adolesents are the worst because they don't care.They have no understanding of the consequences.Remember when you were young?We are under staffed.Commissoner Schriro is out of touch as far as how tough NYC jails are but she is learning fast.She is putting in class after class of new recruits as fast as she can.Problem is,you can send 100 new officers to RNDC and half quit because this job is not for everyone.Chilren are the hardest to deal with as ANY parent knows.They don't take NO for an answer.They insult you and verbally abuse you because they have not had anybody to guide them in life and they have no understanding of authority.Lack of father figures have altered their minds and given them no morals or respect.In jail they feel they can do as they please with no consequences.But after assaulting an officer or slashing another inmate's face, in 20 years when they are finally let out of prison approaching 40 they will regret what they have done because while in prison they will realize after nobody came to visit them how stupid they were when they were young and that they have no real friends.But back to the subject.Violence at Rikers is nothing compared to the 80's and 90's.It has improved drastically!You can NEVER stop slashings.When determined they will find way.Orders come down from higher ups in the gang and they must do it.We could have 10 officers in a housing area of 50 inmates and they will find a way.It is what it is.JAIL!Full of crooks.Robbers,murderers,rapists,con artists and burglars to name a few.It will never end.We do our best but it will never be good enough.Some have given up and just want to do their 8 hours and go home.But,if you want to do 8 hours and go home this is not the job for you.There will be problems.If you want 8 hours and go home go work at Kohls or Target.You won't have any problems stocking shelves.While some of you may think with counseling they can change you're wrong.They only do programs and schooling to impress the judge.They don't give a shit about rehabilitation and schooling.I've watched cop killers walk around with necklaces with pictures of the dead cop on them so people know who they are and make jokes.Then go to court and put on the sad sorry face.Don't be fooled about who is behind bars.These are your enemies,not officers.We do our best(most of us).But the violence will never end completely.It's jail people!They are just as violent there as they are on the street,if not worse.Please give us a chance and get on our side.Talk to a correction officer in your neighbrhood and listen to the stories of what we deal with.How would you react if someone threw feces at you?How would you react if someone spit on you?How would you react if someone grabbed your daughters ass?Being kind and polite in a situation like that is almost impossible.You would not stand for it in the street so we will not stand for it in jail.While I cannot answer for some officers that have taken things too far I understand the things they are accused of.But I will always try to understand their actions and while I may not agree I understand.Put yourself in our shoes.Please,find a correction officer and talk to them.You will have a totally different view of things behind bars.
REPLY TO THEGREATPARADOX7 ..... NO ONE COMES TO WORK TO BE ASSAULTED ....SO CORRECTIONS OFFICERS SHOULDN'T ACCEPT IT ......IM SURE YOU WOULDN'T SAY POLICE OFFICERS SHOULD GET ATTACT WHILE ON PATROL .....CORRECTION OFFICERS ARE NOT JUDGE OR JURY ....THEY JUST DOING THERE JOBS ..... AND FOR YOUR INFORMATION THERE ARE CORRUPTION IN F.E.D'S TOO.....AND SINCE YOU KNOW ABOUT ALL THE CORRUPTION YOU SHOULD DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT AND IF YOU DON'T YOU ARE JUST AS GUILTY ......
I THINK THE VILLAGE VOICE SHOULD PUBLISH PHOTO OF CORRECTION OFFICERS WHO WAS ASSAULTED BY INMATES ....OFFICERS INJURIES INCLUDES BROKEN FINGERS ..JAWS ..NOSE...FRACTURE EYE SOCKET...FRACTURE/ BROKEN TOOTH ...SPLASHED WITH URINE, FECES, SPERM , ....SPAT ON... FEMALE OFFICERS ARE VERBALLY/ PHYSICALLY ASSAULTED EVERY DAY BY INMATE I.E INMATE TOUCHING THEIR REAR ENDS...CALLING THEM BITCHES, INVITING OFFICERS TO PERFORM ORAL SEX ON THEM....CORRECTION OFFICERS CONDUCT A JOB THAT MANY PEOPLE WOULDN'T DO .....I HOPE THE VILLAGE VOICE CONTINUED TO PUBLISH REPORTS THIS SUMMER WHEN THE RIOTS STARTS ..........
This is what happens when you pamper incarcerated individuals. There in there for a reason, whatever it may be, treat them occordinally! There in jail, not camp.
what Jason responded I cannot believe that people able to get paid $7522 in 4 weeks on the computer. have you read this site link lazycash42.c()m
So if councilwoman Crowley is so danged concerned why does she need a spokesperson. Doesn't she have the guts to speak for herself or maybe she really doesn't give a darn.
The solution to this is: stay out of jail. This is not for the ones who are truly innocent but for the idiots who keep coming back and forth to jail. It's not a vacation spot, so don't expect a good time and fun. You decided to give up your freedom by doing something you shouldn't have so now you have to pay the price for it. Have a nice life and remember: don't drop the soap.
HAHA nigger. I have a far better life than your sorry 70 IQ ass. You and yours are nothing but antiquated farm equiptment. Keep flippin dem burgers boy....
The penal system is 1 of the 5 p's. One of Hammurabi's principles. The 13th amendment says when a man is incarcerated he is a legal slave. It is unfortunate that people of color "black americans" are still bred to be slaves like their ancestors. It is also a shame that slavery is still legal in america. They don't want to stop the violence in jails. They want controlled chaos. Much how they did the slaves. Make them hate loath and mistrust each other so that the only 1 they could trust is the cracker ( the 1 who cracks the whip). It's the willie lynch syndrome all over again just in the jail system. As for herman, he is just mad that is trailer trash up bringing has left him in a trailer in west virginia somewhere. Out of touch, out of order, and in trouble for impregnating his sister. Herman and his bloodline will never be president... tough 1.
Likely nothing will be done unless there is an incident involving murder, and the inmates know this.
You can print ur side there side, but I know there are three sides to a story yours theirs and the truth I pray you find the truth before printing a story again
@Anon1 You missed your calling. Himmler is calling you.
@Bossedup100 Damn, that says it all. From looking at your post it is obvious that they don't have any educational standards. If they are letting uneducated half wits like Bossedup100 become C.Os then this is what you get.
Ur such a dumb bitch...clearly. U think ur actually being a c.o working there??Why not get a job at Auburn or even Clinton correctional facility, THEN we'll see how u handle your dumb fuckin self...u fuckin dumb cunt
@Bossedup100 ok yeah you may not be one of the DICK HEADS who a Officer but please spare da bull you know there are plenty of them abusive officers who take SHIDT to the extreme.
@C.O. Had enough abuse. I think it was Judge Robert Blackburn that said "If you want to see the absolute dregs of society, go to a Federal Prison....at shift change".
See, it takes a special kind of person to want to be a prison guard, or a policeman. The person must have a conscious or unconscious, desire to rule over others. Usually, they are a bit sadistic, and often a lot sadistic. They have superiority complexes and are often violent prone individuals. It is pretty evident in your post that you have absolutely no empathy for any inmate. I get the point that there are bad people in jail, and jail is a hard place to be. I am often reminded of Nietzsche's warning: Be careful when you fight the monsters, lest you become one.
If women want to work in those conditions over at Rikers than it come with the territory, they are no different than the men. You want to work around men thats an occupational hazard. And if you are a CO on the Island then you know what happens with a lot of the females and the male officers, so dont front like you dont know. Rikers it is what it is, S--t happens. But the corruption is beyond acceptable. Project CO's and Project Hoes working the Island as only they know how. I have seen officers bring in scalpels, razors, drugs and have neglected their obligatory responsibility in protecting inmates from bloods and Crip members just because they know them from their block. I have taken photos in cell searches that were printed by female CO's after having sex with inmates for money and would print the pics off there cell and give them to the inmate. The S--t that goes on at Rikers is off the hook. The FEDS need to go up in there like they did in Clinton dannemora. The Divorce rate is crazy among CO's, and a happy marriage, please. these women CO's are far from faithful, maybe 2% of them are.
You really think that writing in ALL CAPS will boost your argument?
As for the correction officers: try to explain why other advanced countries do not have such problems in their prisons?
Oh, really? So tell me, as someone who has stayed out of jail, what I should do about the teens who do their time for whatever stupid shit got them in, and then come out and share the city with me?
Seems to me I am safer if those kids aren't brutalized and ass raped when they're in, so they're not severely damaged goods when they come out.
honestly, grow the fuck up. it's a damn shame assholes like you bother to make light of racist cruelty instead of acting upon it. if you're trolling - especially - go fuck yourself; this shit is real. you've probably seen stuff like this only in movies, but these pictures are pictures of mothers and fathers/daughters and sons, some of them victims themselves. You doubt that shit? do some reading, fucker. i'd like to see you go to rikers and say this shit out loud. go to the next protest when the NYPD kills another unarmed black boy and say the shit you're saying. you're a product of of your own cowardice.
@Supiciousone The Willie Lynch syndrome all over again. It is hard not to agree. The 13th amendment did use language like that, but after the Black Codes, of the South, the Peonage Act was passed that did away with the concept of slavery or servitude.With the Peonage Act 1867 Congress abolished “the holding of any person to service or labor under the system known as peonage” specifically banning “the voluntary or involuntary service or labor of any persons as peons, in liquidation of any debt or obligation, or otherwise. The "or otherwise" is very important. It is why prisons have to pay inmates for labor now. I know 75 cent an hour is not much, but it is pay.
The thing is, once you are convicted of a felony, you don't have any rights as a citizen anymore. It took me a lawyer, and $2000. just so I could vote again. Without your rights you can't do much in America.
@Abba. You can't even use the language properly. Now that's stupid! But the again, you're probably a regular "Village Voice" reader. What else should one expect?