Suspected cause of death: medical neglect
January 10, 2022 7:16 PM   Subscribe

In light of recent reporting on conditions in the Rikers Island jail complex in New York City, Orion J Taylor decided to collect and visualize some articles they've encountered about deaths in detention centers across the US. The stories represent only a fraction of these, just one per county. (Each map region has a link to a article.) posted by eotvos (10 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

It’s important to remember that jails are where people are detained before trial. They are not convicted and, theoretically, considered innocent until proven guilty. Inhumain conditions are inexcusable period. But if you nevertheless believe that jail should be punitive, you don’t know what jail even is.
posted by sjswitzer at 7:38 PM on January 10 [17 favorites]

Sorry, correction: Rikers isn’t 100% a jail. Only 85%. Per Wikipedia:

The majority (85%) of detainees are pretrial defendants, either held on bail or remanded in custody. The rest of the population have been convicted and are serving short sentences.

But that’s more than enough
posted by sjswitzer at 7:46 PM on January 10 [4 favorites]

Flames on the side of my face...
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:10 PM on January 10 [3 favorites]

. for my cousin, among the many not listed from his county. The press coverage at the time of his death said that the jail was “conducting an investigation” but who the hell knows what happened after that.

(I didn’t know said cousin well at all, but I think of the vastly different directions our lives took all the fucking time).
posted by I am a Sock, I am an Island at 8:28 PM on January 10 [10 favorites]

The Boat, aka the Vernon C. Bain Correctional Center.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:48 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]

My sister in law is a psychologist at a private prison and her husband is a guard.

Every time they tell me about how great their careers are going I have to bite my tongue to keep from saying I'd prefer they were unemployed.
posted by The Monster at the End of this Thread at 4:16 AM on January 11 [7 favorites]

Thank you for posting this, eotvos. And lalochezia, that Intelligencer article you linked was really helpful for me. I was reading news stories from the visualization map and just got predictably numb. But the map and the Intelligencer article helped me make sense of that.

There's something so dehumanizing about most reporting on jail death. It's like a social autopsy that never changes, just copy-pasted from the one last week in a different state: a jury can't convict, prison officials state their satisfaction, a person is dead. The same story, a thousand times, and I only know three details about this person that never got a future. I know how they look in their arrest photo, I know their criminal record, and I know the legal particulars their death didn't violate. That's not a human life. It's a justification for the next time someone dies. It's a story we keep telling ourselves again and again until the person dead in a jail is just unfortunate and not an indictment.

The stories from the Intelligencer article are brutal but humanizing. I learn about humans with hopes and families and visions for their future--I learn about me. I learn what my life might be like were things a little different, and that's a selfish framing, but it's connection. I don't feel numb.
posted by Avarith at 6:11 AM on January 11 [5 favorites]

Really interesting response, Avarith. That I can read about a million people killed in the second US-Iraq war without feeling much, but a random guy killed while riding a bicycle in my city a few weeks ago is moving is both troubling and interesting. I'm not sure a map is the best way to change that. I don't know what would be. (Perhaps evening TV news filled with individual stories. But, that seems unlikely.)
posted by eotvos at 8:48 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]

Abolition is the only way forward.
posted by ob1quixote at 11:16 AM on January 11 [3 favorites]

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