The New York Bureau

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Sentencing of NY Gang Members Unlikely to Be Last Chapter in Harlem

Police roundup of gang members

NEW YORK — Residents of the Grant and Manhattanville housing projects in west Harlem have been subjected to a deadly gang rivalry spanning generations. This past June, the New York Police Department unleashed a squad of more than 500 police officers to raid the housing complexes and make arrests.

Six months later, the alleged gang members – ages 15 to 30 – wait to receive their sentences Wednesday. The NYPD maintains that arresting more than 100 potentially violent criminals in one fell swoop was a triumph.

Family, friends and neighbors wonder if this is simply a stopgap solution. Continue Reading →

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Teen Is Used to Being Behind Bars, Imagines Future There

Restrictions at New York City prisons and detention centers leave people with few options with regards to securing personal items while visiting inmates. Rikers Island Prison provide a limited number of lockers, and places like the Manhattan Detention Center  at 125 White Street in Manhattan are unable to provide any facilities for visitors. Local doughnut shops , newspaper stands, and a dispatcher for a van service to Rikers Island have come to the aid of visitors that don't want to leave their phones, electronics, and other contraband at home while visiting family, and friends inside the penal system.
A sign at the bus stop for Rikers Island details items that are not permitted on prison grounds.

NEW YORK — Ruben Rodriguez, a teen from the Bronx, is on Rikers Island, waiting to stand trial for homicide. By the time he returned to the Box (punitive segregation) in late September, City of New York Correction Department Commissioner Joseph Ponte publicly promised to end punitive segregation for Rikers’ roughly 300 juvenile inmates by 2015. Continue Reading →

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Fights, Solitary and the Novel Feeling of Regret

Rikers Island

NEW YORK — Ruben Rodriguez walked into the Robert N. Daveron Complex (RNDC), the main adolescent house on Rikers Island, in a faded stone-colored jumpsuit on April 25. A number of inmates whom he recognized from his previous sentence, bristled with fear, but also showed respect and pity when Ruben said he was back on murder charges. Continue Reading →

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One Kid’s Love for the Streets Leads to New York’s Penal Colony

Teacher and Sister of Riker's Inmate

NEW YORK — On June 17, Ruben Rodriguez got two brightly colored envelopes in the mail. His grandmother had sent a card with a silly cartoon. His mother wrote a more sentimental message on her card and tucked a folded piece of loose-leaf inside it. That was a letter from a girl letting Ruben know she was pregnant with his child and planned to get an abortion. Continue Reading →

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Bronx Teens ‘Shell-Shocked’ by New Orleans Violence

Local resident

NEW YORK — The two dozen teenagers who have met on the creaking second floor of Renaissance Center to watch a movie together one night in March are no strangers to their share of street violence. The Renaissance Center features a recording studio, replete with a drum set, a collection of electric and acoustic guitars, a row of microphones, and golden curtains for a backdrop. The teens come to perform songs they have written and composed about their life on the forlorn streets of the South Bronx, one of the poorest congressional districts in the country. Continue Reading →

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