My name is Lorenzo Steele Jr., and I am a former New York City corrections officer who spent 15 years working on the infamous Rikers Island (C-74), the nation’s most violent adolescent jail.

Voices from the box, #2:

These are jail stories from friends of mine that served time in solitary confinement. The main purpose for these stories is to share their personal experience with the public on how it feels to be in a 8 foot by 6 foot cell,the size of a small bathroom for 23 hours. Through this series of short essays,”Behind These Prison Walls: Solitary Confinement” written in first person by the former inmates themselves, I hope to bring awareness to the rampant problems of mass incarceration and youth in solitary confinement.

Story two

Former inmate Trenny, 50 yrs old ( served 6 months in Rikers Islands solitary confinement unit)

My first night in the bing I felt anger and upset because there was a fighting a cutting and stabbing that occurred earlier. Then I had a problem with the officers, the officers beat me up. It was a mixture of everything; fearing a moment to rest to heal and trying to anticipate what was to come.

Psychologically I felt unstable. I did not feel secure; I didn’t know what to feel. I knew that something was coming mentally. The physical part I wasn’t afraid of but the mental part “can I be around myself.”

After I figured I can be around myself the next part of solitary for me was to enlighten myself about where I was at and the things I was missing in myself, meaning character and education. The first two months in there was re-adjusting and trying to adapt to my new surrounding being locked in for 23 hours. You come out for a shower, your food in a 8-foot by 6-foot cell the size of a bird cage and you get one hours recreation.

If you don’t come out for that shower or rec your in your cell for 24 hours. It was just an adjustment to like I said, “re-adapt to my new surroundings in Rikers Island solitary confinement.”

To read testimony from former inmate Jamaine Richardson, go here.


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