Narrator: Anna Pastoressa

Summary: Anna Pastoressa’s son was incarcerated at Rikers Island for six years awaiting trial. Visiting her son weekly for six years, she saw blood, violence, and abuse. She discusses the degradation of the visitation process, during which she and her daughter were subjected to abusive talk and strip searches. As an immigrant to the U.S., expecting opportunity and freedom for her family, she experienced Rikers as “the worst shock of my life.” She was enraged by her son’s prolonged incarceration and became an activist with JustLeadershipUSA’s Close Rikers campaign. Her vision for the future of Rikers involves destroying all of the jail buildings and turning the island into a renewable energy facility or a park. (Summary written by: Annie Anderson)

Interview Date: 5/13/2020

Partner Organization: LVN Community Conversation 2

Interviewer: Tamika Graham

Tags: Rikers Island, Incarceration, Prison abolition, New York City, Oral history, Rikers Public Memory Project, RPMP, Anxiety / Stress, Close Rikers, Covid at Rikers, Insufficient health services, NYC Policies, Impact on communities, incarceration rates, Lack of resources/services, Visitation Process, Emotional impact of visitation, Impact on outside relationships, Language barriers, Coping mechanisms, Defense mechanisms, Network of support, Psychological impact of incarceration, Social interactions in prison, Violence in prison, Violence normalization, Officers’ abuse, Police abuse, Sexual assault, First impressions, Generation changes, Correction Officers, Physical impact of incarceration, Prison facilities, Poor living conditions, Police abuse, Police/officers’ accountability, Youth incarceration, Re-entry, Personal history of incarceration, Housing after Rikers

To read the transcript of this interview, click here