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Life and Death in Rikers Island

by Homer Venters Johns Hopkins University Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 200 pages
AU$57.99 NZ$60.86
Product Status: Out of stock. Not available to order.

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, Dr. 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.

Foreword, by

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: Keleif Browder
Chapter 7: Sexual Assault on Rikers: Maria and Brianna
Chapter 8: Correctional Health
Chapter 9: Transparency and Governance
Chapter 10: What to Do with Rikers

Appendix: Cases, Outcomes, and Legal Resolutions

"Reporters have virtually no access to the jails on Rikers Island, but, for many years, Venters had a rare vantage point from which to observe its inner workings... He left the city's jail-health service in 2017, and now he has written a crucially important book, Life and Death in Rikers Island, in which he examines one of the most overlooked aspects of mass incarceration: the health risks of being locked up... Venters reveals the true human cost of these colossal management failures."

Homer Venters face="Signika Negative" color="#F15421">(PORT WASHINGTON, NY) face="GOTWV C+ Gotham Narrow" color="#211D1E">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