VIDEO: Inmate goes on Facebook Live from behind bars, shows off weapon
NEW YORK — A former inmate claims he was able to smuggle a cellphone into New York's Rikers Island jail and stream on Facebook Live from behind bars, according to WPIX.
The video has been viewed more than 7,000 times on Facebook.
In the video, the former inmate shows off his jail cell, uniform and food.
He then reaches down and unwraps what he calls "the chop," Rikers inmate slang for a blade.
WPIX concealed the identity of the former inmate, who has since been released from Rikers Island and said he is only speaking out to highlight issues he has with the jail.
"The officers feel we have no say, no rights, no freedom of speech," the former inmate said.
Rikers employees have also been targeted by inmates – one day before the interview an inmate slashed a corrections officer across the left side of his face. That guard needed five stitches, raising serious concerns about how this former inmate was able to have a blade.
WPIX asked the ex-inmate about "the chop" he displayed in the video:
PIX11: "Did a guard give it to you?"
Former Inmate: "No."
PIX11: "How did you get it?"
Former Inmate: "I made it myself."
PIX11: "Were you going to use it?"
Former Inmate: "Oh no, I wasn't going to use it. I can fight. I can fight very well. I can defend myself. I wasn't going to use the blade."
City officials are serious when it comes to the rising violence inside the walls of Rikers Island. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has demanded serious changes be made inside Rikers.
WPIX took a tour of the jail in February, during which Department of Corrections Commissioner Joe Ponte touted the addition of 100 new surveillance cameras to help rid contraband from being smuggled in.
"Front gate procedures are more heightened," Ponte said. "Everything has to go through a metal detector."
Yet this former inmate said he was able to get his iPhone past security.
"I brought it straight in with me," he said. "The metal detectors ain't right, that is the only thing I can say."
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, who chairs the Committee on Criminal Justice, said she is frustrated after seeing the video because more enhanced metal detectors are available, but have been sitting idle.
"We have the technology," Crowley said. "The types of screeners used in airports are just sitting dormant and not being used."
Crowley said she has given the city and the department two years to get their act together, and is now fed up.
"It is time we get a new commissioner," Crowley said.
A spokesperson for the Department of Corrections released this statement to WPIX regarding the case:
"Safety for staff and inmates is Commissioner Ponte’s top priority. This individual was arrested and is facing serious charges. This video is under investigation. The 43% jump in contraband finds at DOC this year demonstrates that Commissioner Ponte’s comprehensive reforms of our entrance procedures are working.
"As we have previously done, 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 the scalpels and other small blades that evade detection by other machines. With more than 50 state-of-the-art X-ray machines, metal detectors and other detection devices, we look forward to further success in stemming the flow of dangerous items into our jails."