INSIDE RIKERS: Stories from the World’s Largest Penal Colony. Jennifer Wynn, Author. St. Martin’s $ (p) ISBN Jennifer Wynn, the director of the Fresh Start program at Rikers, takes readers into the Part memoir, part social commentary, Inside Rikers details the author’s . An observant journalist whose experiences at Rikers Island have turned her into an advocate for criminal-justice reform shows us the grim lives.

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Rikers Island–just six miles from the Empire State Building–is one of the largest, most complex and most expensive penal institutions in the world, yet most New Yorkers couldn’t find it on a map.

Jennifer Wynn, the director of the Fresh Start program at Rikers, takes readers into the jails and then back out-to the communities where her students were born and raised. She chronicles their journeys as they struggle to “go straight” and find respect in a city that fears and rejects them.

Part memoir, part social commentary, Inside Rikers details the author’s experiences on Rikers. Wynn offers a compelling portrait of its 18, inmates and how Rikers was transformed from one of the most violent jails into one of the safest. Enter your mobile number or email address below and we’ll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer – no Kindle device required.

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number. Though compassionate, Wynn is also a realist who takes a measured approach to the challenges confronted by both inmates and correctional workers.

She wwynn success stories–say, the guy who had been in and out of Rikers for eight years, but finally, with the help of Fresh Start, graduated from the New York Restaurant School–but she is also forthright about the failures. On the flip side, one of her “failures” asks, “I live in the best This humane examination of America’s greatest social problem redefines what it is to be a free worlder and holds a torch to those who make their lives–whether by choice or by law–within its jails.

Wynn claims working at Rikers has turned her “from a dispassionate journalist into a Her bright, optimistic style seems incongruous with the institutionalized jennifr she depicts, however.

Her deep commitment to viewing prisoners as the downtrodden among us is supported by the jail’s own stark statistics, which indicate that most of the inmates are impoverished minority residents of the city’s “dead zones,” areas with the highest murder rates, and that many are stuck in the hard cycle of drug addiction and drug-related crime.

Wynn uses firsthand narratives of prisoners she’s worked with to illustrate the Kafka-esque difficulties convicts face on the road to rehabilitation.

Her lively prose, with its refreshing lack of “street” pretensions and her emphasis on the forlorn dignity in humanity subjugated by large-scale imprisonment, make this an unusually stirring example of the “teacher in prison” subgenre and a worthwhile companion to books ejnnifer Ted Conover’s NBCC Award-winning Newjack and Joseph T. Hallinan’s Going Up the River, wynn earlier this year.


Her portrait of Rikers as a miniature, punitive Gotham is colorful and complex; moreover, it forces us to acknowledge the inequalities and intricacies of life behind bars, which those ex-convicts continue to face once they step off this island, headed for either prison upstate or to freedom.

Would you like to tell us about a lower price? Read more Read less. Kindle Cloud Reader Read instantly in your browser. Customers who bought this item also bought. Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1. Life Inside Leavenworth Prison. Cop in the Hood: But the 16, people forced to live there, unlike free worlders, are “usually known by their single worst deed. Wynn first entered Rikers Island as a reporter, returned to teach in a rehabilitation program called Fresh Start, and ultimately became the program’s director.

Though she has left journalism as a career, this powerful debut puts her in the best tradition of activist journalism. Unlike most criminologists, she understands that the best way to make a point is to show rather than tell.

By interlacing statistics with moving stories of Rikers’ inmates, she makes clear the arguments rikerz prison–and social–reform. Wynn presents a penetrating exploration of inmates’ lives in New York’s “vast penal colony,” Rikers Island.

Copyright Cahners Business Information, Inc. See all Editorial Jennnifer. Product details File Size: July 24, Sold by: Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review.

Inside Rikers: Stories from the World’s Largest Penal Colony by Jennifer Wynn

Read reviews that mention inside rikers jennifer wynn must read criminal justice justice system rikers island well written bleeding heart great read stories of inmates great book reading this book society criminals jail crime liberal perspective thinking prisoners. Showing of 34 reviews. Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase.

Book full of heartwarming stories and those meant to really put the life in and after Rikers into perspective for everyone else. Far more engaging than anticipated, a must read for anyone curious of life for people who willingly sought to help people readjust to life outside of one of the world’s most infamous prisons.

I truly feel that the free population could really benefit from hearing from more perspectives and to help break stigmas that only work against the very people spoken about in this book to move toward a better society. One person found this helpful.

While the title of this book would indicate that it is a look inside Rikers Island and the prison colonies that are located there, it is so much more. Not only do you get a feel for the size and condition of the prison on Rikers, but you also get to meet inmates and correctional officers. Much of the book revolves around the inmates that participate in a program called Fresh Start. It is a prison program designed to break the revolving door of recidivism.

The program is designed to help give inmates a chance at a real job in the community and uses techniques such as writing assignments and job skills. The author documents a number of inmates. Some are very successful, while others are total failures; she lets you see both sides of the story.


In addition, she details conditions under which these individuals were born and raised. It is a powerful book with a deep seated message that we aren’t doing enough to treat inmates and are spending huge amounts of money on failed polices.

The system needs to be examined and rebuilt; continuing this failed policy will only lead to further problems down the road. This is a must read for all young people in high school and beyond. Loved the storytelling and its clear and realistic dialogue. Would give 6 stars but they stop at 5! Heartbreaking truths about a system that has failed many, and yet it shows how extremes can have an impact both positive and negative.

It was in good condition and it is such a good book. I had to read for school, but I couldn’t put it down. Even though its from almost 16 years What an amazing book. Even though its from almost 16 years ago, still show the real problem of our criminal justice system.

And our lack of resources for those who need it. This is a perfect book for people who interested in prison life. The way prisoners can reintegrate back into society and some may have no other way but to live a prison life because there is no other life for them in the outside world. I enjoyed reading this book and didn’t want to put it down. Some sad and happy stories about certain inmates.

Buy and read, its worth the money. Really, really interesting read. I’m not even done with the book and I feel that I need to spread the word. Especially if you’re one to be intrigued by criminal justice Vivid and graphic details, they completely draw you into the plots of the various background stories of the interviewees.

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INSIDE RIKERS: Stories from the World’s Largest Penal Colony

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