Just before Thanksgiving this year my four-part investigative series about whether or not Rikers Island prison complex could be saved by reforms or should be closed and replaced by small community justice centers was cross-published by City and State and City Limits. The series covers the cases made for both reform and closure, the history of Rikers Island, the thorny issues around reform and the political leap of faith required to make significant change. The movement to close Rikers is an unusual confluence of academics, policymakers, and mainstream politicians, as well as nonprofits and radical activists.
As a detention center/prison, Rikers Island is emblematic of some of the worst inefficiencies of the criminal justice system, as well as its at times intolerable inhumanity. It also symbolizes a much wider problem of mass incarceration, post-Civil Rights discrimination and racism, and increasing wealth inequality. I hope this series encourages much-needed debate not only about Rikers, but all of these issues.
The two versions can be accessed at