Air date: 11/15/2016


First documentary to focus exclusively on people who have endured the nightmare of incarceration at Rikers Island Jail

Rikers Island is New York City’s largest jail. It has also been ranked as one of the ten worst jails in America.  So, says journalist Bill Moyers, if you want to understand the country’s incarceration crisis start at the island jail in New York’s East River – just across the water from the main runway at LaGuardia Airport and within sight of the Empire State Building.

Rikers Island is essentially a vast holding pen for people who have not yet been declared innocent or guilty. Of the more than 7,500 people incarcerated at Rikers, almost 80% have not yet been convicted of the charges against them. And all can find themselves at risk in the culture of violence for which Rikers is known.

No one knows what goes on at Rikers Island like those who have been detained there – some for weeks, some for months, some for years – waiting for a trial, a plea deal, exoneration or sentencing.  RIKERS, a riveting documentary film from award-winning journalist Bill Moyers that premieres Tuesday, November 15th on THIRTEEN at 10 pm, turns the camera on more than a dozen former detainees, and invites them to tell their stories to us, face to face.  Woven together, their powerful remembrances provide a vivid arc of life on Rikers Island from the destabilizing shock of entry, to the extortion and control exercised by other inmates, the oppressive interaction with corrections officers, the beatings and stabbings, the torture of solitary confinement, and ultimately the psychological barriers of returning to an outside world that is completely at odds with the life they lived in jail.

The production team identified and interviewed scores of detainees to create the film. Noting that extensive journalism has reported on the cruelty, abuse and corruption at this island penal colony, Moyers says, “Largely missing has been the voices of the detainees themselves, and we set out to fill that gap and bring a new dimension to public understanding of what is taking place in our name, with our tax dollars, purportedly for our safety.”

RIKERS is a production of Schumann Media Center, Inc. and Brick City TV LLC in association with Public Square Media, Inc. Produced by Marc Levin and Mark Benjamin, with producer Rolake Bamgbose. Executive Producer, Judy Doctoroff O’Neill.  Executive Editor, Bill Moyers.

For more information, visit www.rikersfilm.org

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