Narrator: Gary Gordon

Summary: Gary Gordon was born in Harlem and grew up in the Bronx. As a young man he was sent to Rikers for 90 days by a judge who hoped a short stint on the island would help him turn his life around. It did, and Gordon stayed away from Rikers for 20 years. During a later term at Rikers, a man attacked him from behind, breaking his jaw and knocking his teeth out. After that, his nickname became “Lock Jaw.” Later, at state prison, he was known as “Mr. G.” Gordon found the various processes of incarceration, including visitation and court appearances, so dehumanizing that he looked forward to returning to his cell. “That’s a hell of a psychological mind game,” he says, “where you look forward to being locked in your cage.” (Summary written by: Annie Anderson)

Interview Date: 01/07/19

Partner Organization: 125th Street Library

Interviewer: Sarita Daftary-Steel

Tags: Rikers Island, Incarceration, Prison abolition, New York City, Oral history, Rikers Public Memory Project, RPMP, Getting arrested, Going to court, Youth incarceration, Personal history of incarceration, Working in Rikers while incarcerated, Being released from Rikers, Re-incarceration, Defense mechanism, Violence in prison, Visitation process, Emotional impact of visitation, Impact on outside relationship, NYC policies

To read the transcript of this interview, click here