Facebook Live has brought live-streaming to some unlikely places, from a coup in Turkey to a Congressional sit-in to the International Space Station. Now it has found its most unexpected home of all: prison.
In a Facebook Live video obtained by PIX11, an inmate at Rikers Island in New York City shows off the living conditions inside the prison using a smuggled cell phone. In the video, which live-streamed on July 22nd, he shows his uniform, food, and jail cell. At a certain point, the inmate also brandishes a homemade blade. "Wanna see that chop? It’s a fucking scalpel," he says.
The stream racked up 7,000 views before being taken down.
The inmate, who remains anonymous, claims he made the video to highlight the poor conditions and treatment of inmates at Rikers Island. "The officers feel we have no say, no rights, no freedom of speech," the inmate told PIX11.
There is clearly work to be done
The video is the latest in a long string of complaints about the inadequate safety precautions that have plagued the prison for years. Just days before PIX11 shared the video, a corrections officer at Rikers was lured into a cell and slashed in the face with a blade similar to that shown in the video. (He eventually got five stitches.) According to the PIX11 report, the Department of Corrections has made 43 percent more contraband finds inside the prison this year, and has installed 100 new surveillance cameras. Still, Rikers is seeking approval to install full body scanners similar to those used at airports.
Federal authorities have also announced a series of reforms intended to better protect prisoners from abusive guards and dangerous conditions, issues which have plagued the facility for decades. In the Facebook video, the inmate claimed to have walked straight through metal detectors with the cell phone and he said he made the blade himself. He was released in late July, but was arrested again on Monday for felony possession of jail contraband after investigators discovered the video.