The first definitive history of America's most notorious jail and the violent rise of New York City's law enforcement
Captives combines a thrilling narrative account of Rikers Island’s descent into infamy with a dramatic retelling of the last seventy years of New York and American politics from the vantage point of its jails. It is a story of a crowded field of contending powers–city bureaucrats and unions, black power activists and correction offices, crooked cops and elected leaders– struggle for the right to run our cities, a story that culminates in the triumph of of the twin figures we today call neoliberalism and mass incarceration. It is the history of how the Rikers Island of today–and the social order it represents–came to be.
With a sweeping vision and an often cinematic touch, Captives records how the tempo of history was set by the metronome of bloody and bruising clashes between corrections officers and prisoners, and between police officers and virtually everyone else. Written by a one-time inmate, Captives draws on extensive archival research, decades of journalism, interviews, prisoner testimonials, and firsthand experience to deliver an urgent intervention into our nationwide conversation about the future of mass incarceration.