These Walls These Walls

These Walls

The Battle for Rikers Island and the Future of America's Jails

    • £12.99
    • £12.99

Publisher Description

“A critical intervention in the high stakes debate about the social value of jails and what we could do instead to create safety and justice.” —Alex Vitale, author of The End of Policing

In the tradition of Locking Up Our Own and The New Jim Crow, a rarely seen, thought-provoking journey into Rikers Island and the American justice system that “reframes the debate the country’s incarceration crisis, with a compelling focus on architecture as a path forward (Tony Messenger, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Profit and Punishment).

For nearly a century, the Rikers Island jail complex has stood on a 413-acre manmade island in the East River of New York. Today it is the largest correctional facility in the city, housing eight active jails and thousands of incarcerated individuals who have not yet been tried. It is also one of the most controversial and notorious jails in America.

Which is why, when mayor Bill de Blasio announced in 2017 that Rikers would be closed within the next decade, replaced with four newly designed jails located within the city boroughs, the surface reaction seemed largely positive. Many were enthusiastic, including Eva Fedderly, a journalist focused on the intersections of social justice and design, who was covering the closure and its impact for Architectural Digest. But as Fedderly dug deeper and spoke to more people involved, she discovered that the consensus was hardly universal. Among architects tasked with redesigns that reconcile profits and progress, the members of law enforcement working to stop incarceration cycles in community hot spots, the reformers and abolitionists calling for change, and, most wrenchingly, the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people whose lives will be most affected, some agreed that closing Rikers was a step in the right direction, but many were quick to point out that Rikers was being replaced, not removed. On one point, however, there was firm agreement: whatever the outcome, the world would be watching.

Part on-the-ground reporting, part deep social and architectural history, These Walls is an eye-opening, “insightful…bracing look at how the nation’s jails—and the nation itself—ought to be reformed” (Kirkus Reviews) and a challenge to our long-held beliefs about what constitutes power and justice.

24 October
Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster