Thought I would share a bit about the Island, Rikers Island that is.
I was arrested a little over a year ago- March 25, 2008. I was sitting in my home with my then boyfriend trying to figure out if we should go to the gym or have dinner. There was a knock knock on the door and my boyfriend informed me that the police (12 of them) were outside the door with a battering ram. I was arrested, handcuffed and taken to the precinct.
I spent the night on a hard wood bench after throwing up repeatedly. At arraignment, the DA asked for $10 million dollars bail (same as Bernie Maddoff since we are SO in the same league). After a bit of negotiation, bail was set at $2 million dollars and I was taken into the "tombs" to be processed.
The tombs is the nickname for the holding facilities underneath 111 Centre Street (the main courthouse in NY). They call it the tombs because it feels alot like a masoleum. Its all cement, cold, some floors are underground - like a tomb. Plus, when your there - you just wish you were dead.
In the tombs, I was processed by Officer Suzuki. She insisted I was a tranny. I'm like woahhhhh - trannie? I know I photograph POORLY but still. She kept telling me it would be ok if I told her. She said it was the lack of movement in my forehead and my lips. Excuse me if I like botox and restalyne. After a few minutes she moved me into a general holding cell where I waiting with 3 other women who were trying to make bail. I called my attorney who said we would do our best to round up some money ($2 million was not even an option). And I waited for the bus to come and take me to Riker's Island.
The bus they take you on is horrible. They handcuff you to another inmate by the wrists and ankles. I was fortunate enough (detect note of sarcasm) to be handcuffed to a 5'11/210 pound African American Woman who was clearly high on crack since she was itching, scratching and very volatile. My little short legs could barely keep up with hers and she ended up dragging me around like a barbie doll.
But back to the bus, the bus is ancient with no heat or air. Its got bench seats which are largely uncomfortable and a few cages for the high profile inmates (which I became later). It has no shocks so with each bump you are smushed closer to your crack addict busmate making her really want to kill you.
When you arrive to the Island, you go into a central cell for processing. The area that you enter and exit from is called Intake and it is the most disgusting place you can imagine. There are 6-8 main cells that they throw 20 women in (there are only seats for about 10 of them). Since intake is a highly trafficked area they don't clean it much and its gross.
I was thrown into a cell with roughly 20 other women, 18 of which were going through some sort of withdrawal. They were on the floor throwing up in corners, having dry heaves, the sweats, convulsing- it was a very pleasant environment. There were a number of big dykes who really wanted a word with me as well. There is no running water in these cells so forget about getting something to drink. There is also one toilet in front of the entire cell (no doors) and its filled with food since the crackheads don't eat they just throw everything into the toilet. The toilet never gets cleaned and the food turns into maggots. Its quite a sight to see and even if you really have to pee you cannot drag yourself to urinate in this monstrocity of a toilet.
I arrived into my new home Wed at 4pm. I sat on this bench, freezing, scared, alone, until Thursday night when they made me take the mandatory shower and put on these paper clothes to be strip searched. They DID NOT feed me this entire time nor was I given any water. Why you ask? Because they treat you like animals and don't give a shit - you are not innocent until proven guilty - your in jail. So, I got my shower, drank the water out of this group shower thing, put on my paper clothes and got strip searched. I then waited to see the doctor which is mandatory. I told them I hadn't had any water and they gave me a pill cup where I was able to drink a little bit. Then, I had this lovely photo taken of me for my ID badge as well.
Around that time someone figured out I was on the cover of the Daily News and The Post. I was moved into my own cell where I still waited to be housed. Late Thursday night they took me to housing unit 1 - made me check in and then brought me right back to intake. See there is a rule in Rikers- you must be housed within 24 hours. So, they wanted to meet their deadline, so they took me to this unit, made me sign in and acted like they just then realized I was high profile and moved me back to intake as a transfer. I sat in intake until Friday about 2am (36 hrs) and was finally taken to Closed Custody Housing (CCH).
I was placed into a dirty cell - the floor was filled with dead bugs and debris from the prior tenant, no working water, no mirror (ok there was a 4inch x 4inch piece of scratched aluminum on the wall that posed as a mirror), no pillow or blanket - just a dirty mattress. By this time, my clothes were thoroughly disgusting and I smelled. I was locked in my cell which was about 8ft x 8ft - cement walls and a steel door. It had a toilet which was covered in sticky tape from girls sticking maxi pads on the cover and no running water. I curled up on the mattress, cried and went to sleep for about 2 hours.
The next day I woke up and knocked on my cell door for about 2 hours until someone finally came. I was given the phone and I made my first call to my then boyfriend. I didn't understand that I needed to put money on my account to be able to use the phone and we were cut off. It felt like torture. I had a brief connection to something I loved and the line went dead. I wanted to die. I cried and cried and cried.
Eventually I ate and showered. I had to knock on my cell wall for another 45 minutes until an officer came and led me to the shower. At least that was semi-private. It was in its own cell with a shower curtain. You get locked in and the officer sits outside while you shower. The only toiletry they give you in Rikers is soap. So at least I was clean.
I was eventually able to make calls once I got money put on my "books". And I could buy a few things as well - not that there is much to buy or any mirror anyways. That was my first 2 days on the island where I spent another 97 days but I'll leave those to another post...