“I had to go live,” the inmate with a blurred face says in the post, originally reported by CW affiliate WPIX. “I did everything else.”
The inmate recorded the video in late July. He was then released from Rikers before authorities saw the video. In the video, he shows his jail cell, his uniform and some leftover food on a metal plate. But the stream takes a serious tone when the man pulls out a jail-made knife.
“Y’all wanna see that chop?” he asks the people following him on the social networking site. “This is a (expletive) scalpel.”
He later told WPIX that he made the knife inside the jail’s walls for protection but that he never used it because “I know how to fight to defend myself.” The inmate told the news station that he hoped the video sheds light on safety concerns at the jail.
According to WPIX, the video was viewed more than 7,000 times, including, apparently, by investigators who quickly identified the man on camera and arrested him again on Monday. He had been out of custody for only a few days after his release.
Bronx District Attorney’s Office public information office James Brunner identified the inmate who made the video as Shamel Robinson. He was charged with felony possession of jail contraband, and his bail was set at $150,000. His next court date is scheduled for Friday, according to records.
Department of corrections spokeswoman Eve Kessler told The Washington Post that staff have found significantly more contraband this year compared with last year and that Rikers Island wants to be authorized to use more advanced body scanners that could detect small blades like the one Robinson flashed. Kessler said:
The 43 percent jump in contraband finds at DOC this year demonstrates that [New York Corrections Department Commissioner Joseph] Ponte’s comprehensive reforms of our entrance procedures are working. … We are continuing to seek a change to state law in order to authorize the use of body scanners, which we already own. The scanners can detect scalpels and other small blades that evade detection by other machines.
Kessler told The Post that the jail wants to have 100 percent camera coverage by 2016.
“Front gate procedures are more heightened,” Ponte told the news station. “Everything has to go through a metal detector.”
Some of those enhancements were put in place after a guard was slashed in the face with a homemade knife inside Rikers Island in November. In a statement after visiting the guard in the hospital, Ponte spoke about beefing up efforts to keep things like phones out of jail:
As part of our comprehensive reforms, we have already tightened entrance procedures to keep weapons and contraband out of our jails, bolstered security camera coverage and redesigned our emergency response teams to get to officers faster when they are in a dangerous situation.
Smartphones are some of the most dangerous things a person can bring into a prison, according to a New York Times article on the rise of the devices in correctional facilities:
With Internet access, a prisoner can call up phone directories, maps and photographs for criminal purposes, corrections officials and prison security experts say. Gang violence and drug trafficking, they say, are increasingly being orchestrated online, allowing inmates to keep up criminal behavior even as they serve time.
In January, 51 inmates, prison officials and others were arrested for allegedly taking part in a massive corruption, fraud and money laundering scheme with a home base at Georgia’s Autry State Prison, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The inmates carried out the scam using cellphones that had been smuggled inside prison walls.
Rikers Island officials plan to have 100 percent camera coverage of the jail by 2016, not 100 new cameras as originally reported by WPIX. This post has been updated.