Narrator: Tamika Graham

Summary: Tamika Graham is from Staten Island, New York. She was detained at Rikers as a teenager and as an adult. She recalls feeling humiliated by the intake experience, after which she lost her independence and a sense of herself. She discusses the negative medical and mental impacts of Rikers on those who live and work there, from living through the COVID-19 pandemic to the toxicity of the air and water. Of Rikers, she says: “it smells like a hospital that was built on top of a graveyard in the middle of a sanitation dump.” She recalls feeling like she died several mental and emotional deaths while there. She now works as the Director of Canvassing for JustLeadershipUSA, where she also helps lead the Close Rikers campaign. (Summary written by: Annie Anderson)

Interview Date: 5/8/2020

Partner Organization: LVN Community Conversation 1

Interviewer: Yule Adams

Tags: Close Rikers, reparations, impact on communities, personal history of incarceration, covid at Rikers, insufficient health services, prison facilities, poor living conditions, overcrowding, detainees’ neglect, psychological impact of incarceration, impact on communities, NYC policies, Correction officers, physical impact of incarceration, Rikers culture, network of support, social interactions in prison, coping mechanisms, officers’ abuse, visitation process, violence in prison, anxiety / stress, violence normalization, re-entry, re-incarceration, impact on outside relationships, police abuse, housing after Rikers, Rikers Island, Incarceration, Prison abolition, New York City, Oral history, Rikers Public Memory Project, RPMP

To read the transcript of this interview, click here