This week, we finish our conversation with Kelly Grace Price about the campaign to close Rosie’s. Rosie’s refers to the Rose M. Singer Facility, an all-women’s jail on Rikers Island. On average, Rosie’s detains around 630 women, girls, transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex females while they await trial.
Suzanne Singer, the granddaughter of the jail’s namesake, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times highlighting the abuses at Rosie’s. Her description of the facility is damning and powerful:
“Many of the women incarcerated at Rosie’s should never have been committed there. Eighty-five percent of them are mothers; a similar percentage have substance abuse disorders. Most have suffered trauma and violence at the hands of men, and two-thirds report having a mental illness, according to a 2017 report by the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform.
Seventy percent of the women at Rikers are awaiting trial. Pretrial detention should be eliminated for low-level, nonviolent crimes. Rather, these women should be sent to community-based alternative programs. The Rosie M. Singer Center was supposed to be a beacon to the world, a place where women caught up in the criminal justice system would be treated humanely and kept safe.
The jail has not lived up to that vision, however. Instead, it has devolved into a torture chamber, where women are routinely abused, housed in unsanitary conditions, and denied medical and mental health services. They are treated as less than human, not as our grandmothers, mothers, daughters and sisters.”
Last time, Kelly Grace Price walked us through the basics of the Rose M Singer Facility, including examples of the corruption and greed that permeate the New York Board of Corrections. This time, Price discusses issues with prisoner advocacy groups, and the ways in which Rosie’s puts undo pressures on its female inmates that male prisoners in different Rikers units do not have to face. She references abuses at the Bedford Hills Facility, an upstate institution that many women are transferred to from Rosie’s.
Content Warning for sexual violence.