Narrator: Sergio Parrilla

Summary: Sergio Parrilla grew up in Manhattan. He was incarcerated at Rikers Island from December 2019 through April 2020, living through the first wave of COVID-19 at the facility. He describes overcrowded conditions, an inability to social distance, and a lack of masks and gloves. He lost close friends to the virus and attempted suicide multiple times. As someone with diabetes, heart problems, and asthma, Parilla describes living through the pandemic as a “nightmare” and a “total living hell.” Reading the Bible and praying helped him survive. (Summary written by: Annie Anderson)

Interview Date: 6/9/20

Partner Organization: Exodus Transitional – Holiday Inn

Interviewer: Jenny Goldberg 

Tags: Rikers Island, Incarceration, Prison abolition, New York City, Oral history, Rikers Public Memory Project, RPMP, Covid at Rikers, Being released from Rikers, Overcrowding, Psychological impact of incarceration, Violence in prison, Parole, Correction Officers, Officers’ abuse, Poor living conditions, Anxiety / Stress, Network of support, Social interactions in prison, Insufficient health services, Close Rikers

To read the transcript of this interview, click here