Smuggling illegal items into prison has been a part of society since the advent of incarceration, but when you actually see it on film, it certainly makes the issue a bit more jarring. In a case that’s caused quite a stir for law enforcement personnel in New York City and across the country, a former inmate at Rikers Island correctional facility has released video footage he claims he shot on a cellphone while detained inside.
According to NBC New York, the man, who requested anonymity, was a minor drug offender and was able to literally walk right past guards at the Manhattan Criminal Court, where he went for sentencing, and ultimately at the Rikers Island prison complex.
“I’m not going to do their job for them,” the former inmate told the news station. “It was something that shouldn’t have just been overlooked. I want everybody, taxpayers, to see this because we’re paying them to do nothing.”
Slipping a cellphone into a prison might not sound like the most dangerous of crimes, but it’s pretty easy to connect the dots and see how the simple act of getting in any sort of contraband, which cellphones are considered, is a potentially serious problem.
The former inmate even posted videos from behind the bars on an Instagram account using the hashtag #Rikers, showing clips of holding cells and even a prison guard walking away with his back turned.
Cellphones, which emit radiation even when they’re turned off, make up a very small portion of illegal contraband confiscated by prison facilities. In New York City jails, 4,756 items were seized last year in total. Only 39 of them were phones.
“A cellphone, in one sense, can be even more dangerous than a weapon because a cellphone can allow you to communicate undetected, which can allow you to smuggle multiple weapons in,” said Mark Peters, the Commissioner of New York City’s Department of Investigation.
To Gary Heyward, a former corrections officer who was arrested for, and wrote a book about, smuggling contraband into jails, this incident didn’t come as much of a surprise.
“I smuggled cellphones a few times,” Heyward told NBC’s I-Team. “As I see it right now it’s becoming more common, not only on Rikers Island but throughout the prison system.”