This week, we share the final part of a conversation about Rikers Island between Bella Bravo and Jarrod Shanahan. Shanahan is a writer, activist, and professor of Criminal Justice based in Chicago. He has previously appeared on Kite Line to discuss mass incarceration and the George Floyd rebellion. We are speaking again today about his new book Captives: How Rikers Island Took New York City Hostage.
Captives recounts the last seventy years of New York politics from the perspective of the city’s jails. Shanahan’s research began when he himself was awaiting a sentence he knew would land him on the island. His observations and experiences of Rikers’ violence during his short-stint there became the foundation for this history of mass incarceration and the accompanying triumph of neoliberalism. Shanahan shows that historical controversies are always about the present too. So while Captives tells the story of how Rikers Island—and the social order it represents—came to be, it bears many lessons for those struggling against prisons and jails today.
We encourage you to listen to last week’s episode with Jarrod as he gives some of the history of Rikers as a prelude to this week’s reflections on systemic challenging facing abolitionists.
Our previous episodes with Jarrod are here:
Thanks to Jarrod and Bella. Jarrod’s book is available through Verso Books.