Recently, New York City newspapers published articles raising awareness regarding violent incidents at Rikers Island.
For those not familiar with New York, Rikers Island is the city’s main jail complex, a 413.17-acre island located in the East River between Queens and the Bronx. If you fly into LaGuardia Airport, you will see the razor wire-surrounded island located only a short swim from the runway. Adult and youth offenders reside on this island dedicated exclusively to incarceration.
While the news articles bring up significant concerns, the incidents of violence are not new. As one might expect, the occupants are not there because they are model citizens. A wide range of law infractions and violations can earn a trip to Rikers. The constitutionality of sending youth offenders there has been questioned, especially considering that "most
of whom have not yet been convicted of crime, and about half of whom have been diagnosed with a mental illness," according to Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
Once there, safety is not assured. There are rival gangs looking to start a fight. Forty percent of the population has been diagnosed with mental problems. The staff response to violent inmates has resulted in frequent injuries and sometimes death.