1. Rikers Island Was Home to a Secret Society


In a 2009 Daily News article, writers Joe Gould and Rich Schapiro reported on a secret, “sadistic Rikers Island society,” called “The Program,” which was operated by facility guards. According to internee Antonio Madera, they allowed a group of inmate enforcers, known as “The Team,” to assault and humiliate other prisoners; sometimes, they also participated in the beatings.

The “hellish scheme” remained under wraps until an inmate, Christopher Robinson, who was 18 at the time, was brutally murdered; Madera consequently filed a lawsuit against the city in February 2008, which was settled for $22,500. Undertraining of corrections officers continues to result in brutal treatment of inmates. Just Leadership reported that “In 2013 alone, use of excessive force by officers resulted in 1057 injuries among an adolescent population of only 791.”

Negligence by correction facility officers have led to lawsuits and settlements, including a $5.75 million payout for Bradley Ballard in 2013, who was found in a cell only after six days, a $2.75 million payout in July 2014 for the wrongful death of Ronald Spear who died of blunt force trauma to the head, and a $2.75 million payout in December 2014 for Jerome Murdough, who died from being in a mental health unit that was over 100 degrees.

Next, check out 13 of NYC’s Active Prisons and read about Hart Island: New York City’s Mass Burial Ground.