Meet Denise Albright, Michael McKie, and Khalid Nelson. They ran the Rikers Island Fight Club, known as “The Program” — where certain inmates were beaten by other inmates on “The Team” — but these three were not inmates. They were Rikers Island officers.
Team members were allowed to extort commissary money, clothing and phone privileges from other city jail inmates. Those who didn’t cooperate were beaten – and McKie and Nelson set the time, place and punishment, prosecutors said. “They didn’t turn a blind eye to violence. They authorized and directed it,” Assistant District Attorney James Goward said at the trio’s arraignment.
“They turned jail into what might be called almost a nightmare environment where inmates were subjected to beatings, where inmates were recruited to commit beatings.”
In one case, Nelson had one group of prisoners show another the right way to deliver a beating so the injuries wouldn’t be so noticeable, prosecutors said. Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson said the motive was laziness: “It made their job easier.”
The abuse at Rikers’ Robert N. Devoren Center came to light after the Oct. 18 death of inmate Christopher Robinson – who refused to take part in “The Program.”
How far have we fallen as a society when those vested to serve and protect become the cruel arbiters of beatings and punishments as evidenced in a 58-count indictment?
Is there no escape from the ever-escalating and conflating realm of self-anointed corporal punishment?
How many compressing concentricities can a single society sustain without imploding from the dark matter morass?
We have the social norm, the aberrant degradation, the adjudication, the correction, the punishment, the captive persecution and the final ring of death inside a Panopticonic coffin.
If Albright, McKie, and Nelson are found guilty — so far all three pleaded not guilty — what is a suitable punishment for their behavior; and should they expect to be protected by the very system they allegedly abused to serve their own vicious ends?