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Rikers Island

Rikers Island
Bronx, NY 10474
Phone: (718) 546-1500

Interview with Blunt, Charles, Patrick, Ryan, TJ and U.N. Owen

JM: How long was your sentencing for?
Blunt: My sentence was for six months
Charles: I was charged but never sentenced
Patrick: four months
Ryan: 6 Months
TJ: n/a
U.N. Owen: I've never been upstate - to prison. I've only done jail time.

JM: Did you spend time in a holding cell after your sentencing? If so, what was that like? If you didn't where did they they take you instead?
Blunt: Yes! The process was very quick. Compared to when they discharge you the process of going into jail was very quick.
Charles: I was arrested on Dec 19 2006 for assaulting my wife and I was arrested again on Dec 21 2006 for breaking up 3 stores with a sledgehammer. I was charged with a class E felony. Both times I was arrested I was placed in a tiny holding cell in Brooklyn's 63 precinct. The holding cell was maybe 6 feet by 6 feet with a small steel bench. The cops would take their sweet time taking you to a bathroom if you needed to go. After the holding cells we were taken to Central Booking. Central Booking was a nightmare. It was located way down below street level of the Courthouse, it was very , very crowded here and many prisoners were pissing and shitting in toilets that were clogged and overflowing. There weren't any windows down there. We ate peanut butter or cheese sandwiches with warm milk. It was disgusting having to eat with shit and piss all over the place. Prisoners slept on the floor on top of each other. I spent the entire night in these cells before I saw the judge. I was very delusional and paranoid then and got into 3 fights so the guards put me in leg shackels and took me to a nearby hospital for observation. The leg shackels are very very painful.
Patrick: yes and it was horrible i had to sit there for another six hours and waited and waited
Ryan: boring and stressful because you know you are not going home.
TJ: n/a
U.N. Owen: After court, and you're going to Rikers, the process is SLIGHTLY in reverse. You go back into the last cell you came from. When they've collected enough 'bodies' (that's what we're called) to bring upstairs, they back-cuff us 2x2, and, we proceed to a higher floor. We're asked our sexuality, and, if necessary, any special housing considerations. Then, you're brought into another set of bullpens, which, for the most part, are usually MUCH quieter, and better behaved than the whole intake process. You can sit in this cell for anywqhere from a couple of hours, to maybe 5 or so hours. Then, you're again back-cuffed 2x2, then brought all the way down to the street level, where you board the Rikers Island bus. It's not that comfortable a ride - with your hands cuffed behind you, and to soemone else, and, since the busses have NO shocks, and you're gonna be on sme of NYC's WORST sufaced roads, you WILL be bounced up & down. A LOT.

If you or someone you know will be spending some time locked up at Rikers Island, you might be wondering what to expect. This jail is often depicted in the popular drama "Law and Order," but it can be hard to tell what is accurate on a television show.

To give you a real glimpse inside this facility, we have interviewed former inmates, who have shared their experiences, ranging from their court experiences, to what the food is like, and everything in-between. You can access these interviews by clicking the links to the left. Take a few minutes to read their stories, so you can learn what life is really like for those locked up in Rikers Island.

Time Off
To deal with issues of overcrowding, many jails routinely release inmates before they have completed their full sentence. Rikers Island is one of the jails that do this. Inmates in this facility normally serve only 2/3 of their time. This is automatically calculated by the jail when they are first booked, and only inmates who cause significant problems during their stay normally lose this time off.

To make sure you get out as early as possible, you should avoid fighting, smoking, and possessing contraband. In general, stick to the jail rules and you should be able to get your time off with no problem.

Keeping in touch with family and friends on the outside is a high priority for most people who are serving time. Rikers Island provides phones to inmates. They can either use money on their jail account, or call collect. One individual reported that each inmate got two free calls per week.

To dial out using a jail account, the inmate dials their booking and case number before making the call. It is pretty typical for an inmate having money on their books to be harassed by those who don't to let them make a phone call. Approximate cost of phone calls is about $1 for 15 minutes. This is a very reasonable amount compared to other jails. Calls are monitored by the jail on a regular basis.

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