In the first week that 16-year-old Vidal Guzman spent at Rikers Island, three of his fellow detainees hung themselves. All of them were teenagers.
“Every single day felt like hell,” said Guzman, who now works as a community organizer for Just Leadership USA, of his time at Rikers. The remote jail complex, which is plagued by violence, currently holds 120 of these adolescents.
Guzman and other advocates and activists who have been pushing to close the sprawling jail complex that they derisively call Torture Island, had news last week that has brought them closer than ever to their goal. The possibility of finally shuttering Rikers Island has them wanting to make substantive policy changes for incarcerated youth.