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My First Trip

Rafael is a Social Worker Intern and student at Bronx Community College who has spent approximately 10 years in and out of the New York City and State prison system. Rafael's goals and aspirations are to empower our communities and disrupt the Prison Industrial Complex.


First, I would like to say I’m one of those inmates that both New York City and State Department of Corrections don’t want to speak out against them. And it’s not just because I was assaulted by them numerous times both mentally and physically with lawsuits and scars to prove them.

No, it’s because I witnessed their capacity to commit horrendous acts of violence and hide it behind their badges and slogan “only the boldest.” And I’m also sorry to say that I have helped them.

Throughout my life, people closest to me said Rikers Island was like a second home to me. I even had the classification to prove it, at one time my classification was in the 90s around 2006. My family and friends couldn’t have been more right on the subject at the time but now that has to be the farthest thing from my truth that there is…

I started visiting my “second home,” right after I turned sixteen years old. Two weeks to be exact. I will not discuss the nature of the crime because it’s under a Youthful Offender status but I will say I wasn’t innocent like Kalief Browder, (Sleep in Peace).

After being arrested I spent two days in Central Bookings and another day being processed at C-74 on Rikers Island. Now C-74 is where most non-sentenced Adolescents are housed who cannot afford bail. So, after being routinely checked by medical, I was sent to Mod one. Mod one is were all newly admit adolescents who make it to Rikers Island are classified then housed. While in Mod one, I was pretty much left alone until my second day there.

A young man came in the house (Mod one) around mid-day and straight off the back, starting disrespecting the Steadies of the house. A steady is a CO who is usually posted in one specific location. Now, after being disrespected by this young adolescent the CO's then left him between the A and B gate and came into my side of the house in Mod one and basically said “I’m going to put the whole house on the burn if this problem I’m having isn’t taken care of” and proceeded to say that he is serious about his threat and gave the house 10 minutes to decide and that the A and B gate will be open. I remember several adolescents getting together and planning how to execute the CO's command.

Needless to say, the inmate was jumped and by both sides of the house, because while one CO was making request on the A side, the other CO was making the same request (a threat in all actuality), on the B side. After the job was done, both Steadies came into the house congratulating and passing out cigarettes to all the adolescents that participant in the beating.

In conclusion, this is just one of the many incidents that I have either witnessed first-hand, participated in or was a victim of the acts and influence of New York City boldest. After all my trials and tribulations on Rikers Island I have noticed that most COs favor these sayings that were constantly repeated though out my incarceration by multiple Correctional Officers, 1). “Peter pays for Paul.” As we would have found out if we didn’t execute the CO's demand for immediate action. 2). “This isn’t personal it’s business” I heard that one, repeatedly every time getting my ass hand to me for the slightest infraction or act of insubordination. And my favorite line by New York’s city boldest “The only difference between you and me was that you were caught and I wasn’t.” Where is the rehabilitation of the prison system when the guards openly admit to committing the same crimes as the prisoners they’re guarding? Where is the logic in that…?

#prisonwritingrehabilitation #community #literacy #writing #advocacy #prisonreform

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