Narrator: Eileen Maher

Summary: Elizabeth Reyes grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. Reyes spent about six months at Rikers before being sent to state prison. At Rikers, she worked in the mess hall, where she would report at 4:00 am in order to serve breakfast at 5:00 am. She remembers Rikers as a damp, smelly place, with water dripping from leaking roofs and showers. In state prison, she took advantage of the mental health clinic, connecting with therapists and counselors who helped her. Reyes calls her incarceration “a blessing” that helped her get to a better place. She visits Rikers today as a re-entry worker. (Summary written by: Annie Anderson)

Interview Date: 1/22/20

Partner Organization: College & Community Fellowship

Interviewer: Margo Sacerdote

Tags: intake, insufficient health services, detainees’ neglect, correction officers, working in Rikers while incarcerated, turtle squad, officer’s abuse, poor living conditions, prison facilities, officer’s accountability, poor living conditions, social interactions in prison, visitation process, impact on outside relationships, sexual assault, NYC policies, policy changes, going to court, physical impact of incarceration, abuse of medication, rikers history, Rikers Island, Incarceration, Prison abolition, New York City, Oral history, Rikers Public Memory Project, RPMP

To read the transcript of this interview, click here