Rikers for Teens: 'A Deep-Seated Culture of Violence'

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

A view of the buildings at Rikers Island. (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

A federal report from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has found a pattern of abuses against teen prisoners at Rikers that violates their civil rights. Michael Schwirtz, New York Times reportertalks about the report and what it adds to the conversation about conditions in the facility.

Excerpt: Listen to an Anonymous Call from Rikers Island


Michael Schwirtz

Comments [9]

Jean from Brooklyn

As I said on the show, research shows that 50% of teens entering NYC jails have a history of Traumatic Brain Injury. Brain injury is not a mental illness. It is an injury. Like any other injury, TBI is more likely to heal when it is not under stress. The environment of the prison system, particularly with the reported violence, is damaging to a known medical condition.

Aug. 05 2014 10:41 AM

It's bad to separate teenage males from adult males. "In areas where adult men are scarce, young people are 36 percent more likely to commit assaults, a research team led by the University of Michigan School of Public Health has shown."
Read more at:
This is also true of many other species. Eg.: Gangs of adolescent male elephants tear apart rhinos. If there is an adult male with the group, they don't.

Aug. 05 2014 10:34 AM
fuva from harlemworld

What Rikers guards require, like everyone else, is better historical and socioeconomic understanding, which will better inform our actions.

Aug. 05 2014 10:31 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Okay...that call from the Rikers inmate is probably the sanest one yet. He understands the vicious cycle at work here.

Aug. 05 2014 10:29 AM
anon from nyc

John from Westchester is WRONG. Many of these kids are awaiting trial, which means that they have not been found guilty of anything yet; some are in for drug offenses which are not violent crimes. And, according to my husband who used to teach there, the vast majority of these young men have some kind of learning disability which, if addressed at an early age may have changed the course of their lives.

Aug. 05 2014 10:25 AM
Anonymous from Queens NY

No matter the charge, you cannot beat them up! and no one is asking the guard to give mental health care, but rikers should. Inmates need proper treatment and counsel so that they do not return to the streets with the same mind set.

Aug. 05 2014 10:24 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Unfortunately, and as usual, this is a discussion about symptoms and not root problems. Of COURSE these are traumatized kids – physically and emotionally. As are the vast majority of inmates. If we won't confront the longstanding underlying inequities behind the statistics, we're spinning our wheels...

Aug. 05 2014 10:19 AM
Amy from Manhattan

The prison system has been called the biggest mental health facility. I'm starting to think that applies to the guards as well as the inmates. What kind of screening do prison guards get for *their* mental health status? Is there any effort to keep out people who are likely to be abusive?

And why did it take so long for this situation to be reported publicly?

Aug. 05 2014 10:17 AM
Anonymous from Queens NY

Woww no comments here...silence speaks so loudly.

Aug. 05 2014 10:15 AM

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