Rikers Island, New York City’s infamous jail is experiencing a gruesome “Battle Royale” of sorts, due to inmate beefs. The jail cells, showers and cafeterias of Rikers have been stained with the blood of assailed gang members at the highest rate the facility has seen in 15 years. Bloods, Crips and Latin Kings are all exchanging “buck fifties” across faces and torso stabbings in what authorities deem a gang war.
In the month of July, there were 21 bloody attacks within the walls of Rikers Island. In at least 16 of the incidents involved inmates identifying as members of one of the aforementioned gangs. Last year, Rikers was only seeing seven slashings or stabbings in a month. The weapon choice has been the “shank,” a sharpened piece of metal common to prison warfare. The NY Daily News described one of the attacks:
In one clash, eight gangbangers slashed an inmate about 11:30 a.m. on July 1 during a religious service in the main gym at the George R. Vierno Center, the internal records show.
This comes at a bad time for Rikers officials, who are in the midst of sweeping reform efforts. Corrections Commissioner Joseph Ponte recently announced a 14-point plan to curb violence among inmates. The plan entails “visitor reforms to keep weapons and contraband out of Rikers, increasing security camera coverage, developing crisis intervention teams to respond to inmate-on-inmate violence and designing educational programs to reduce idle time.”
Staffers blame the surge in violence on the reduction of prisoners sent to solitary confinement, a measure pushed by Ponte.