Narrator: Elizabeth Reyes

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: 1/14/20

Partner Organization: Exodus Transitional

Interviewer: Angela Martinez

Tags: Rikers Island, Incarceration, Prison abolition, New York City, Oral history, Rikers Public Memory Project, RPMP, First impressions, Prison facilities, Working in Rikers while incarcerated, Social interactions in prison, Coping mechanisms, Anxiety / Stress, Psychological impact of incarceration, Physical impact of incarceration, Impact on outside relationships, Impact on communities, Lack of resources/services, Going to court, Emotional impact of visitation, Last-day, Intake, Poor living conditions, Close Rikers

To read the transcript of this interview, click here