Narrator: DeWayne John Roe

Summary: DeWayne John Roe was born in East Orange, New Jersey, and moved to New York City in 1994. He served several terms at Rikers, where he was brutalized mentally and physically. Roe notes he was “ready, willing, and able to survive by all means necessary” in such a chaotic, violent, and humiliating place. At Rikers, he held several jobs: helping to sweep and mop the dorms as part of the “house gang,” cutting hair in the barber shop, and working in the law library. He discusses the importance of closing Rikers and reinvesting in communities, detailing the excessive financial costs of keeping the jail complex open. He ends the interview by sharing five key questions that guide his life: Who am I? What am I doing with my life? Where is my life heading? What is my purpose here on earth? Do I believe in a higher power greater than myself? (Summary written by: Annie Anderson)

Interview Date: 01/07/19

Partner Organization: 125th Street Library

Interviewer: Addie Alexander

Tags: Rikers Island, Incarceration, Prison abolition, New York City, Oral history, Rikers Public Memory Project, RPMP, First impressions, Personal history of Incarceration, Threats and fears, Correction Officers, Violence in prison, Working in Rikers while Incarcerated, Social interactions in prison, Going to court, Turtle squad, Police abuse, Poor living conditions, Physical impact of incarceration, Psychological impact of incarceration, Anxiety / Stress, NYC Policies, Parole, Housing after Rikers, Prison facilities, Overcrowding, Violence normalization, Insufficient health services, Medical evaluations at Rikers ,Officers’ abuse, Detainees exploitation, Rikers in the 90s, Impact on outside Relationships, Visitation Process, Emotional impact of Visitation, Close Rikers, Impact on communities, Reparations, Lack of resources/services, Rikers history, Last-day, Being released from Rikers

To read the transcript of this interview, click here