The following excerpt is from the article by Susan Stellin, which references the HAL States of Incarceration National Launch & Conference in April 2016:
After my partner Graham was released from Rikers Island, where he served four months for drug possession, I asked him if he would rather have done his time at the Brooklyn House of Detention, near the neighborhood where he’s lived for 25 years.
“No way,” he told me. “At Rikers you have a lot more freedom of movement. You walk to the kitchen, you’ve got access to a yard, you can watch planes taking off from LaGuardia and still feel connected to the rest of the world. And you live in dorms — not cells — so you don’t feel like you’re locked in a cage.”
Since I’d supported the reopening of the Brooklyn jail, which many of its neighbors opposed, I was surprised by Graham’s answer. But it turns out he’s not the only former Rikers inmate who shares this view.
At a conference about incarceration at The New School in April, two other men who’d done time at Rikers expressed skepticism about calls to close it. Like Graham, both men emphasized a more urgent priority: shifting the focus at Rikers to real rehabilitation, a purpose for which the island’s location and size could be ideal.
“I hope they use the space — ‘cause it’s huge — to set up a model prison,” said Barry Brodsky, who spent almost a year at Rikers before serving 10 years upstate. He also passed through the Brooklyn House of Detention, which he described as particularly grim. “There’s no space to move around — you’re in your cell and you come out for meals. Rikers is not good, but it beats the local houses of detention.”
Read the full article here: https://www.themarshallproject.org/2016/06/05/forget-closing-rikers