Rikers Island is the second largest jail complex in the U.S, and is located in the East River next to La Guardia Airport. With 413 acres, ten jails, and a clear overrepresentation of New York City’s Black and Latino communities, Rikers Island holds around eight thousand detainees on any given day. Eighty-five percent of them have not been convicted and are kept inside while waiting for trial, often for several months just because they can’t afford to post bail.
Since it opened in 1935 a deep-seated culture of violence has persisted inside the jail and countless of under-reported human rights abuses have occurred with impunity. By 2016 Rikers has become a symbol of the flawed criminal justice system where money pushes the poor into prison and people prefer to take plea deals instead of fighting their cases in court because in many cases it could easily take longer than the sentence they are offered.
“Rikers Island: Out of Sight, Out of Mind” explores how Rikers Island has affected the life of different individuals, sharing their stories and experiences. This project intends to create awareness about the importance of a long neglected issue and to re-humanize a population that has been forgotten by the media, politicians and the general public.