Narrator: Kandra Clark

Summary: Kandra Clark grew up in a small town in Illinois. She became an addict by the time she was 12, and she started getting arrested at the age of 15. She arrived in New York City in 2008 and lived in East Harlem. Two years later, she was indicted with 18 co-defendants on 652 counts of identity theft and fraud. She spent several months on Rikers Island in 2010 before being sent to state prison. In this interview, she describes her attempts to build community with other incarcerated women amidst Rikers’ culture of dehumanization and violence. She was sexually harassed every day at Rikers by male officers, and she estimates that 90% of the women she met while locked up experienced physical or sexual abuse as children. Following her release from prison in 2011, Clark began working in a variety of re-entry positions with The Fortune Society and JustLeadershipUSA. Clark is now the Vice President of Policy and Strategy at Exodus Transitional Community, a re-entry organization in New York City. She is actively involved in the campaign to close Rikers Island. (Summary written by: Annie Anderson)

Interview Date: 1/14/20

Partner Organization: Exodus Transitional

Interviewer: Carlin Zia 

Tags: Rikers Island, Incarceration, Prison abolition, New York City, Oral history, Rikers Public Memory Project, RPMP, Getting arrested, Going to court, Intake, First impressions, Overcrowding, Police/officers’ accountability, Detainees’ neglect, Correction Officers, Psychological impact of incarceration, Poor living conditions, Medical evaluations at Rikers, Insufficient health services, Physical impact of Incarceration, Network of support, Social interactions in prison, Officers’ abuse, Correction Officers, Coping mechanisms, Impact on outside Relationships, Visitation Process, Emotional impact of Visitation, Threats and fears, Prison facilities, Violence in prison, Anxiety / Stress, Solitary confinement, Sexual assault, Detainees exploitation, Close Rikers, Working after Rikers, NYC Policies, Reparations, Impact on communities, Rikers in the 70s/80s/90s, Defense mechanisms, Defense mechanisms, Personal history of Incarceration

To read the transcript of this interview, click here