This photo was published last week in the midst of the NY Times expose of all things Rikers Island, right around the time it was announced that Rikers would make extensive changes to its solitary confinement practices – in 2016.
The disaster that is Rikers fits my month long rant about bullies and the bullying bullies who bully and has consistently reminded me of stuff I normally wouldn’t want to be reminded of but now need.
So, I ran across the Mayor visits prison photo op above and my immediate thought was, “what a load of unmitigated bullshit.” As everyone who has ever watched a WW II prison camp movie would know in a heartbeat.
You know, the International Red Cross is coming to inspect Stalag 17, the camp is made as immaculate as possible, books and food packages held for months are released, the sick are treated, etc.
Then every staff member from the Commandant on down tells every prisoner, repeatedly, not to even think of talking to anyone from the Red Cross, the ‘or else’ does not have to be spelled out in any facility that has something called ‘the hole.’
It’s the same in any contemporary prison, of course. But worse. There are no books or food packages held for just such an occasion; all work in prison is performed by inmates, so the fix-up for the visit is pure hell. It’s also the perfect opportunity for COs to clear away any or all contraband under the assumption the visiting dignitary may want to root around inmate lockers.
The admonishment to discuss nothing beyond weather and sports is not so much suggested as ordered. Problematic inmates with a history of grievance filings find themselves sitting in medical all day, inmates know that at least two of the dignitary’s traveling posse are watching and taking names of anyone who waivers a syllable from the institutional script.
Nice picture up top, but you can rest assured not a damn thing of substance was was uttered. Certainly the best outcome for the ‘rapt’ inmates.