Narrator: Brandon Rodriguez

Summary: Brandon Rodriguez grew up in Staten Island, New York. He was incarcerated at Rikers Island twice, including a one-month stint when COVID-19 first swept through the facility in 2020. He coped with stressful conditions inside the jail by writing, rapping, praying, cleaning, and sleeping as many as 17 hours a day. As a transgender person, Rodriguez faced harassment and physical violence while incarcerated. He struggled to manage his bi-polar disorder and his sobriety at Rikers. His post-incarceration dreams include being in the movies, starting a clothing line, opening a nightclub, and becoming president. (Summary written by: Annie Anderson)

Interview Date: 7/28/20

Partner Organization: Exodus Transitional – Manhattan

Interviewer: Elliot Wesselborg

Tags: covid at rikers, poor living conditions, insufficient health services, violence in prison, sexual assault, getting arrested, police abuse, police accountability, anxiety/stress, defense mechanisms, social interactions in prison, going to court, detainees’ neglect, psychological impact of incarceration, social interactions in prison, coping mechanisms, close Rikers, NYC policies, prison facilities, Rikers Island, Incarceration, Prison abolition, New York City, Oral history, Rikers Public Memory Project, RPMP

To read the transcript of this interview, click here