Violence, inflicted by guards and among prisoners, is simply part of the fabric of daily life at Rikers Island. Thanks to tireless reporting by the likes of Michael Winerip and Michael Schwartz at the New York Times, we know this, but we know it in an abstract sense—told through broad statistics and quoted anecdotes. Here’s what it actually looks like.
Over the past several months, as the culture of brutality at Rikers Island has become harder and harder to ignore, New York's corrections department has gestured toward reform. Incompetent officials resigning, thuggish guards punished when in the past they'd be given high fives and told to keep their mouths shut. We know there's a problem, officials are saying, but we're making it better. Don't believe them.