An Oral History of Rikers Island

Dwight Garner at the NY Times:

One of the takeaways of “Rikers: An Oral History,” a new book by the journalists Graham Rayman and Reuven Blau, is the shock inmates feel upon entering this run-down and lawless prison for the first time. It’s not just the sense of peril, the reek of toilets and cramped quarters, and the nullity of the concept of presumption of innocence — it’s an awareness, as one interviewee puts it, that “nobody cared and nobody was watching.”

Alongside that shock, the rapper Fat Joe tells the authors, is the awareness that, if you grew up in the projects and attended the public schools, you know this place. “I’m willing to bet that the same architect designed all three things,” he says, having visited friends at the jail complex when he was growing up. “I’m telling you I was born in Rikers.”

more here.