Exclusive: Inmate Streams to Facebook While Inside Rikers Island Prison
In a shocking and alarming incident, a former Rikers Island inmate claims that he was able to smuggle an iPhone into the jail, raising questions over security in the prison. The former inmate streamed his living conditions to Facebook Live on July 22, so that he could throw light on the unsafe conditions in Rikers Island Prison in New York. The video which has been exclusively obtained by PIX 11 News has been viewed more than 7,000 times on Facebook.
In the video, the former inmate shows off his jail cell, uniform and food. At one point in the July 22 video, the inmate, whose face was blurred out to conceal his identity, pulls out a blade. Inside Rikers, many inmates call it “the chop.” What is surprising is that there is no one around to watch over him.
The former inmate, who is out from jail, told Pix11, “The officers feel we have no say, no rights, no freedom of speech.” The incidents of assault at Rikers have shot up recently, reports Pix11.
Below is a snippet of the former inmate’s conversation with PIX11:
PIX11: “Did a guard give it to you?”
Former Inmate: “No.”
PIX11: “How did you get it?”
Former Inmate: “I made it myself.”
PIX11: “Were you going to use it?”
Former Inmate: “Oh no, I wasn’t going to use it. I can fight. I can fight very well. I can defend myself. I wasn’t going to use the blade.”
The video was meant to be some kind of joke said the former inmate. However, what was not a joke was the fact that an inmate was able to obtain a contraband iPhone.
“I brought it straight in with me,” the former inmate said. “The metal detectors ain’t right, that is the only thing I can say.”
When Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, who heads the committee on criminal justice saw the Facebook video showed by PIX11 was frustrated by the incident and with Department of Corrections Commissioner Joe Ponte’s leadership. Crowley said more improved metal detectors are available, they are not in use.
“We have the technology. The types of screeners used in airports are just sitting dormant and not being used,” she said.
“It is time we get a new commissioner,” Crowley added, noting that she has given the city and the Department of Corrections two years to fix these security issues.
Regarding the case, a spokesperson for the Department of Corrections released this statement to PIX11 News:
“Safety for staff and inmates is Commissioner Ponte’s top priority. This individual was arrested and is facing serious charges. This video is under investigation. The 43% jump in contraband finds at DOC this year demonstrates that Commissioner Ponte’s comprehensive reforms of our entrance procedures are working.
“As we have previously done, we are continuing to seek a change to state law in order to authorize the use of body scanners, which we already own. The scanners can detect the scalpels and other small blades that evade detection by other machines. With more than 50 state-of-the-art x-ray machines, metal detectors and other detection devices, we look forward to further success in stemming the flow of dangerous items into our jails.”