Narrator: Diana Ortiz

Summary: Diana Ortiz grew up in Chicago and arrived in New York City when she was 17. She was sent to Rikers Island in 1983 when she was 18 years old. She served almost two years at Rikers, where she earned her GED, and then spent the next 20 years at Bedford Hills, a state prison for women. She spent her time at Rikers reading books and drawing. When asked what she lost while at Rikers, she responded: “I guess the biggest person that I lost when I was at Rikers was me, the person that I could have been.” (Summary written by: Annie Anderson)

Interview Date: 1/14/20

Partner Organization: Exodus Transitional

Interviewer: J. Khadijah Abdurahman

Tags: intake, first impressions, anxiety/stress, threats and fears, youth incarceration, network of support, coping mechanisms, social interactions in prison, prison facilities, psychological impact of incarceration, detainees neglect, violence in prison, correction officers, officers’ accountability, generational changes, defense mechanisms, visitation process, going to court, insufficient health services, last-day, solitary confinement, young people incarcerated with adults, medical evaluations at Rikers, impact on communities, close Rikers, reparations, NYC policies, Rikers Island, Incarceration, Prison abolition, New York City, Oral history, Rikers Public Memory Project, RPMP

To read the transcript of this interview, click here