Narrator: Marvin Mayfield

Summary: Marvin Mayfield grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn in the 1960s and 70s. After serving in the Air Force, Mayfield returned to Brooklyn and was arrested for a crime he didn’t commit at the age of 22. After waiting three days in central booking to see a judge, he was given a $10,000 bail and sent to Rikers Island. Within five minutes of entering his cellblock at Rikers, he was beaten up by a group of men who stole the gold chain around his neck and punched him in the face. He was at Rikers at the height of the war on drugs and the crack epidemic, and recalls “cage after cage after cage after cage” at Rikers, “overburdened with humanity.” During his second incarceration at Rikers, he spent three months in solitary confinement during the summer. He took off all his clothes and doused himself with water from his toilet to stay cool. Of Rikers, he says: “that place is hell.” (Summary written by: Annie Anderson)

Interview Date: 1/29/20

Partner Organization: JLUSA

Interviewer: Elizabeth Speck

Tags: Rikers Island, Incarceration, Prison abolition, New York City, Oral history, Rikers Public Memory Project, RPMP, Getting arrested, Going to court, Intake, Personal history of incarceration, Overcrowding, Medical evaluations at Rikers, First impressions, Violence in prison, Prison facilities, Coping mechanisms, Defense mechanisms, Officers’ abuse, Detainees exploitation, Solitary confinement, Re-incarceration, Last-day, Visitation Process, Impact on outside relationships, Re-entry, Poor living conditions, Psychological impact of incarceration, NYC Policies, Going to court, Sexual assault, Anxiety / Stress, Close Rikers

To read the transcript of this interview, click here