“Voices From Rikers,” is a new series for Don Diva featuring the perspectives and experiences of some of the young men who have served time there. Through this, we hope to give readers a look at the conditions that inmates face on Rikers and the circumstances that lead to young people being incarcerated there, and other facilities across the nation. Today’s installment comes from a young man named Asad Giles, from Brooklyn. This is his story.
My name is Asad Giles. I am 20 years of age. I did 28 months for attempted murder, locked behind cell after cell for a crime that I did not commit. I was taken away from my family, friends and society for nothing. I am now working on my book, spoke in support of continued visitation on Rikers Island on NY1 News, have a full time job and am soon attend college. Caged. Mistreated. Hopeless. These are the feelings of the many men & women who are incarcerated on Rikers Island, an environment surrounded by water, visibly saying there’s no escape. It’s a place where thousands of people are treated like caged animals; a place where HUMANS are called PACKAGES. Let me tell you a little something about my experience.
Me and a couple of friends were falsely accused of attempted murder in April 2012. I was at the young, tender age of 17 when I was hit with seven [years] on A and B felony charges. Imagine facing those absurd, life-threatening charges at such an age, at such a random time in life. It was my senior year in high school. Everything was going great. I had all my regents, was passing all my classes and got accepted to a couple of colleges. Life was going great. BOOM! April 15, I wake up to a thundering knock from the police. I heard a strong, worried cry from my older sister running towards my room, asking what I did. I was totally unaware of anything she was saying or what was going on. I was taken to a precinct where I was harassed. Racial slurs were thrown at me and I was questioned with force. I went to “C-74,” a jail on Rikers full of adolescents. My very first day, I seen a boy get jumped by a group of guys. I was good in there, because I knew a couple guys in there. From that day on, I knew it was going to be a jungle.
I did 19 months in the adolescent section until I turned 19. I got sent to GRVC, or “The Beacon.” This is the maximum security jail on Rikers Island, for guys who have high-profile cases. In The Beacon, cuttings were normal, gangs were in bunches and correctional officers were corrupted, just like they were in C-74. Every day that passed while I was in jail, I thought about so much. Just the smell of outside in my town made me smile. I did nine months in The Beacon, until I was acquitted of all charges at trial. I was facing 25 years of my life if I blew trial, all for something me and my friends had nothing to do with.
Rikers Island: a place where gangs prevail and violence lingers the air.
I am now free.
Asad is now home, employed and will be starting college in the Fall.