Life and Death in Rikers Island

Life and Death in Rikers Island

by Homer Venters

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Kalief Browder was 16 when he was arrested in the Bronx for allegedly stealing a backpack. Unable to raise bail and unwilling to plead guilty to a crime he didn't commit, Browder spent three years in New York's infamous Rikers Island jail—two in solitary confinement—while awaiting trial. After his case was dismissed in 2013, Browder returned to his family, haunted by his ordeal. Suffering through the lonely hell of solitary, Browder had been violently attacked by fellow prisoners and corrections officers throughout his incarceration. Consumed with depression, Browder committed suicide in 2015. He was just 22 years old.

In Life and Death in Rikers Island, Homer Venters, the former chief medical officer for New York City's jails, explains the profound health risks associated with incarceration. From neglect and sexual abuse to blocked access to care and exposure to brutality, Venters details how jails are designed and run to create new health risks for prisoners—all while forcing doctors and nurses into complicity or silence.

Pairing prisoner experiences with cutting-edge research into prison risk, Venters reveals the disproportionate extent to which the health risks of jail are meted out to those with behavioral health problems and people of color. He also presents compelling data on alternative strategies that can reduce health risks. This revelatory and groundbreaking book concludes with the author's analysis of the case for closing Rikers Island jails and his advice on how to do it for the good of the incarcerated.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781421427355
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 02/19/2019
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 200
Sales rank: 234,243
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Homer Venters is the former chief medical officer and assistant commissioner of Correctional Health Services for the NYC Health and Hospital System. He is currently the senior health and justice fellow at Community Oriented Correctional Health Services and an associate professor at New York University's College of Global Public Health.

Table of Contents

Foreword, by Preet Bharara

Chapter 1. Dying in Jail: Carlos Mercado and Angel Ramirez
Chapter 2. Injury and Violence
Chapter 3. Solitary Confinement
Chapter 4. Serious Mental Illness in Jail
Chapter 5. Human Rights and Correctional Health
Chapter 6. Race: Kalief Browder
Chapter 7. Sexual Assault in Rikers: Maria and Brianna
Chapter 8. Correctional Health
Chapter 9. Transparency and Governance
Conclusion. What to Do with Rikers


What People are Saying About This

Josiah D. Rich

"The story of Dr. Venters's experience, the approaches he has taken, and his outlook on the problem of health care in the setting of mass incarceration provides a perspective that is desperately needed."

Leonard S. Rubenstein

"This accessible book compiles and rewrites in engaging form the impressive, innovative, and path-breaking body of research Dr. Venters and his colleagues have conducted concerning key medical and human rights issues in prisons."

Preet Bharara

"Life and Death in Rikers Island and its eye-opening analysis of the health risks of incarceration draw a powerful conclusion: in a just, fair, and democratic society, we have a moral obligation to care about the culture and justice of correctional institutions."

Customer Reviews