INTERVIEW w// C.O.

Our latest continued research came in the form of an interview with a corrections officer who works on "The Island". We had a more open approach to this interview as we weren't too sure what we would learn from a corrections officer since they are often painted in such a bad light - but I think we got some really interesting narrative leads! We have the interview voice recorded so that we can always revisit it but the officer requested to remain anonymous. Here are a few of the specific takeaways from that interview that have sparked some interest for us:

  1. Inmates and officers alike that go to the island become associated with a certain status level (stigmatized popularity) although it is the same system as the other jails throughout the city since Riker's is intended to be a holding place.

  2. The land that Riker's is on is hazardous. Workers are more susceptible to cancer and have to sign multiple waivers and documents before even starting to work on the island.

  3. There are gangs in the jails between both the inmates and workers. There has been a pattern with the younger generations of officers being newly employed. Workers often end up being from the same neighborhoods as inmates and relationships develop, leading to conflict of interest on many levels.

  4. The whole redistribution will be an experiment because no one knows how its truly going to work. Property values may drop considerably for establishments around the new jails and insurance for cars & homes may increase for these areas as well.

  5. People escape from Riker's all the time (through very simple means, might I add) and the media doesn't show it. If they can escape Riker's, they can definitely escape these smaller locations.

  6. Many times people come in for petty crimes and through their time in Riker's become worse after having to affiliate with gangs to protect themselves. So the redistribution is potentially putting even more dangerous inmates in a more intimate setting than anticipated.

There's definitely more where that came from. Our next interview we have setup is with an artist who has been commissioned to do work on the island. This will help us focus the portion of our story that deals with what the vision for the island is, as its closing has already begun with two of the holding facilities.

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