3010 – The Secret History of Rikers Island w/ Graham Rayman & Reuven Blau

Sam and Emma host Graham Rayman, criminal justice reporter for The New York Daily News, and Reuven Blau, senior reporter for The City to discuss their recent book Rikers: An Oral History. First, Sam and Emma run through updates on this weekend’s mass shooting at Monterey Park, a former New York FBI agent engaging in money laundering with Russian connections, Biden’s new Chief of Staff, and the GOP’s crackdown on food-based benefits, before diving deeper into the debt ceiling discussion and Joe Manchin’s take on how to undermine social security and medicare without being blamed for it. Then, they’re joined by Graham Rayman and Reuven Blau as they dive right into their work compiling quotes from those within Rikers on every element of life in the detainment center, from those working there to the detainees that are imprisoned, before they step back and explore the institution of Rikers itself, looking at this prison complex as super-detached from the rest of the NY justice system, acting as a pre-trial detention center while playing host to many victims of the justice system that suffer from severe mental health issues, all adding up to Rikers producing higher death rates while also receiving more funding and hosting fewer inmates in comparison to the rest of the New York system. After an in-depth exploration of Rikers jail as a violent quagmire where inmates are stuck for years before they even face trial, Rayman and Blau walk through the last 50 years of Rikers’ development, beginning at the end of the 1970s when the crack epidemic saw New York reinvest in short-term city and state jails on the island, quickly ramping up the population of inmates to around 20 thousand and immediately cementing its role in the New York justice system, despite the infrastructure crumbling within a decade, making the island host to the worst conditions in New York jails which would continue to deteriorate over the next few decades. Wrapping up, they explore the “hidden” role of solitary confinement and the other forms of detainee abuse, and discuss the federal government’s highly critical monitoring of the jail and why it has had little to no impact on its existence.

And in the Fun Half: Sam, Emma, and the MR Crew tackle the arrest of former FBI agent Charles McGonigal, and Sam’s greater half-baked theories of the New York crime world, Tucker goes absolutely ballistic over the idea that conservatives would just be aggrieved for the sake of aggrievement, and Donald Trump’s absurd appearance at Diamond’s memorial (of Diamond and Silk). They also tackle two different Jims struggle with coherent thought, before they’re joined by Kowalski from Nebraska in-studio! Kowalski walks through his first impressions of New York, and the economic developments in the practice of farming over the last half-century, plus, your IMs!

Check out Graham and Reuven’s book here: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/625018/rikers-by-graham-rayman-and-reuven-blau/

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