A former Rikers Island inmate streamed a video from his jail cell on an iPhone smuggled into the facility, according to a report from PIX11. He used Facebook Live to broadcast the living conditions within his jail cell on July 22. The recently released inmate shared his story anonymously with the news organization.
The man reportedly brought the iPhone into Rikers Island himself, and metal detectors missed it. In the video, he is seen describing his cell, the food he eats, and shows off a handmade weapon. A blade, referred to sometimes as “the chop,” is unwrapped in the video, though man told PIX11 he had no intention of using it.
Rikers Island is notoriously violent and mismanaged, thus the ease at which inmates can make and conceal weapons shown in the video is deeply concerning. The corrections facility is trying to move forward with the use of body scanners to improve security, similar to the ones used by the TSA. Upon seeing the video, New York City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley said the Department of Corrections needs a new commissioner.
The former inmate’s video is the latest controversial use of Facebook Live, the company’s feature that lets anyone live stream directly to their Facebook feed. Last month, users streamed shootings and the aftermath of violence on Facebook Live, including the police shooting of Philando Castille (which was temporarily taken down due to what Facebook called a “technical glitch”). Users also turned to Facebook Live to document a failed coup in Turkey, and broadcast events in real-time.
The Rikers Island video was deleted from the man’s Facebook after reportedly receiving more than 7,000 views. The Department of Corrections told PIX11 the man was arrested and facing serious charges.