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USA-RIKERS/
RTX1MU3O
August 03, 2015
Jared Peartree, 19, poses for a photograph outside his grandmother's house in the Brooklyn borough of...
New York, UNITED STATES
Peartree, 19, poses for a photograph outside his grandmother's house in the Brooklyn borough of New York...
Jared Peartree, 19, poses for a photograph outside his grandmother's house in the Brooklyn borough of New York, October 2, 2014. Peartree says he was 18 and 19 years-old when he was incarcerated on Rikers Island from 2013 to 2014 because "My past kinda caught up with me." In an incident where inmates did not respond to a lock-in, Peartree says officers came in and sprayed inmates with multiple types of pepper spray, including one he refers to as MK9 until he says his "skin feel like it's coming off, can't breathe, you can't see, so you don't know what to do." He also said he was put into flexicuffs which were so tight that "From my hands to my elbow is blue." Peartree further says the inmates were beaten by "wooden sticks, four inches thick." Before the interview is over, Peartree says, "I recommend anybody from the age 16 to 21 to not go to Rikers Island. It's like the younger you are, that's the one they actually will pick on the most. I turned 19 in there too, so I went with the adults. And when they with the adults, it's much more respect. They don't do the things they do with adolescents. They don't try to put their hands on them or none of that. It's like they give you your equal rights. And I think that's not fair cause we younger." Rikers, one of the largest jail complexes in the country which houses around 9,800 prisoners, came under scrutiny after the Justice Department in August 2014 issued a report that described a pattern of violent abuse of male inmates aged 16 to 18 by jail staff. In response to questions from Reuters, a spokesman for Rikers Island Department of Correction (DOC) said that, "Since Commissioner (Joseph) Ponte's appointment last year, he has significantly reformed the care and custody of adolescent inmates, resulting in substantial decline in violence in the adolescent facility." The spokesman added that safety for staff and inmates is Commissioner Ponte's "top priority" and that "DOC has a zero-tolerance police with regards to abuse." REUTERS/Elizabeth Shafiroff
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