Part personal history, part book review, John J. Lennon writes on “The Brutal Reality of Life in America’s Most Notorious Jail” for The Atlantic.
For the past 21 years, I’ve been locked up, mostly in maximum-security prisons: Clinton, Attica, Sing Sing, and now Sullivan, in the Catskills. But before my sentencing, I spent a few years on New York City’s Rikers Island. That period, and the year I did on the island as a teenager, was, by far, the most brutal.
You go to prison after you get sentenced. You go to a jail, like the ones housed in the sprawling mega-complex on Rikers, after you’re arrested and denied bail or can’t afford it. Jail is a tension-filled place, with months-long stretches between court dates, hours of nothingness, clashes over who’s next on the phone or who didn’t get extras on chicken day. What makes jail so hard is not knowing what is to become of you.
Read the rest of the article on The Atlantic.
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