Former Rikers Island prison officer opens up about life in prison

The entrance to Rikers Island, home of the main prison complex.

The ex-officer said “the system has failed everyone” – including inmates and guards (Picture: Getty)

The “system failed everyone” at Rikers Island Jail, and now the inmates essentially run the notorious jail, a former correctional officer said.

A woman who used to work on the island in New York has spoken out about her horrific experience at the complex.

She said inmates regularly masturbated in front of her, threw feces and urine at her, and attempted to rape one of her co-workers.

The ex-officer, who asked not to be named, told Vice: “It’s just an island full of gangs that are constantly trying to kill each other. Almost all have weapons – knives or sharp objects. Officers would be attacked daily.’

Describing inmates openly masturbating in front of staff, she recalled opening the slit to a cell and screaming as the inmate pushed his penis through the hole.

Another officer on the same floor made it seem “like it’s normal” and told her, “Oh, he does this to everyone.”

The ex-guard said: “I felt hurt. I didn’t feel respected. I was afraid.”

The Rikers Island prison complex is under a blanket of snow in January.

More than 10,000 suspected criminals await trial at Rikers Prison (Image: Getty)

The officer also shared how she believes one of her colleagues was almost assaulted when an inmate being held for rape came into the guard station and “ripped off” her belt and pants.

Female officers were then advised to wear Spanx under their uniforms “just in case”.

The former security guard explained how Rikers is “spreading” with drugs brought in by “officials, program officers, doctors, nurses and civilians who visit detainees.”

Prisoners have access to “every drug imaginable” because the value of a drug in prison is worth so much more than what street dealers can get for it.

The ex-officer said: “I was hired to provide custody, care and control of the inmates,” she added. “The system has definitely failed everyone involved – the inmates, the officers. Everyone involved is suffering.’

She explained that there are 50 inmates for every guard. Some of the prisoners are used to pepper spray and undeterred, while others threaten to “cut” any staff member who uses it.

The woman eventually had to quit her “sapping” job because she felt like she was “having a heart attack at 21” after working back-to-back 16-hour shifts in such a stressful environment.

She said: “If I could speak to any official who wants to join the Corrections, I would tell them, ‘Don’t do that. It’s not worth your quality of life, it’s not worth your sanity. Until there is some kind of structure and security, don’t even consider it.’

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Justin Scacco

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