Is Rikers Island a Death Trap?

This year, a record number of prisoners could die at the infamous jail. Why?


Episode Notes

New York’s Rikers Island is infamous for its violence and danger, even to prisoners who haven’t been convicted of any crime. At least 18 detainees have died there under questionable circumstances this year alone. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by attorney Olayemi Olurin. She shares more about what led to these deaths, and why political leaders like New York Mayor Eric Adams may be standing in the way of closing Rikers or making it safer.

Guest: Olayemi Olurin, a public defender at The Legal Aid Society in New York City.

Podcast production by Kristie Taiwo-Makanjuola


About the Show

America doesn’t need another conversation about race. At least, not the kind we’ve been having … the ones that are sparked by a crisis and move quickly from shock to empty promises to forgetting. No. What America needs are REAL conversations about race—ones that shine a light on the facts, the history, and the reality of how race plays out in our politics and society. That’s what Slate offers each week on A Word … with Jason Johnson. A veteran political commentator, Johnson will bring his incisive wit to thoughtful discussions with leaders, journalists, and other change-makers who will tell the truth about America’s challenges around race and offer ideas on the way forward.

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