Narrator: Harvey Murphy

Summary: Harvey Murphy grew up in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx. He first arrived at Rikers in 2001 when he was 16 years old. On his first day there, he witnessed a man stab another man in the neck in a dispute about Frosted Flakes cereal. During the intake process, he saw people cycling through the infirmary with gashes, broken fingers, and no teeth. He thought: “What the hell am I getting into?” He describes Rikers as bloody, noting “You wake up to a fight. You go to sleep to a fight.” He remembers visits from family as one of the hardest and most humbling experiences of his time at Rikers. He felt more human after these visits, but his family felt hopeless because they didn’t have the money to bail him out. Today, Murphy is actively involved in the campaign to close Rikers Island. (Summary written by: Annie Anderson)

Interview Date: 10/17/18

Partner Organization: Brooklyn Central Public Library 

Interviewer: Darlene Jackson

Tags: Rikers Island, Incarceration, Prison abolition, New York City, Oral history, Rikers Public Memory Project, RPMP, Intake, First impressions, Violence in prison, Overcrowding, Prison facilities, Poor living conditions, Correction officers, Youth incarceration, Violence normalization, Violence in prison, Coping mechanisms, Emotional impact of visitation, Parole, Re-entry, Incarceration rates, Close Rikers, Being released from Rikers

To read the transcript of this interview, click here