Rikers: An American Jail

Rikers: An American Jail

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 9:00pm - 10:00pm

Pictured: Damian Stapleton went to Rikers in 2007.

Credit: Mark Benjamin

From Bill Moyers and a team of producers that includes Judy Doctoroff, Marc Levin, Mark Benjamin and Rolake Bamgbose, comes the first film to focus exclusively on former detainees who were held at Rikers Island.

Their searing testimonials about the deep-seated culture of systemic violence and corruption that has plagued the notorious NYC jail for decades add a powerful authentic voice to investigative journalism that has reported on violence and abuses at the jail. Rikers: An American Jail, a riveting new documentary that brings you face to face with men and women who have endured incarceration at Rikers Island, premieres Monday, May 22, 2017 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV.

The United States is facing a crisis of mass incarceration with over 2.2 million people packed into its jails and prisons. To understand the human toll of this crisis, Rikers Island is a good place to start. Of the more than 7,500 people detained at Rikers Island on any given day, almost 80% have not yet been found guilty or innocent of the charges they face. All are at risk in the pervasive culture of violence that forces people to come to terms with what they must do for their own survival. 

Their stories, told direct to camera, vividly describe the cruel arc of the Rikers experience—from the shock of entry, to the extortion and control exercised by other inmates, the oppressive interaction with corrections officers, the beatings and stabbings, the torture of solitary confinement and the many challenges of returning to the outside world.