NY’s Rikers Island Inmates Paid 39 Cents Per Hour to Work in Sandy Recovery

There was no Hurricane Sandy evacuation plan for inmates inside New York City's main jail complex on Riker's Island but they were certainly put to work in the recovery efforts.

By Jorge Rivas Nov 26, 2012

There was no Hurricane Sandy evacuation plan for inmates inside New York City’s main jail complex on Riker’s Island but they were certainly put to work in the recovery efforts. 

The New York Times is reporting Riker’s Island prisoners who worked in post-Sandy recovery efforts were paid 39 cents an hour.

The New York Times has more details on the recovery efforts inmates were part of:

Capt. Richard Polak, who helps oversee the laundry at Rikers, accompanied other correction officers to pick up sheets, blankets, towels and clothes from a dozen shelters in storm-struck parts of the city. The items were returned laundered within hours. It was the first time Rikers’s laundry was used to help in a citywide emergency, the correction agency said.

The laundry, on the north side of Rikers, serves the island and most of the city’s other jails. It already handles enormous loads and, in what turned out to be a stroke of good timing, a huge new washing machine was installed there in July. The machine, a long tube that looks like a rocket lying on its side, can do 2,000 pounds of wash every 90 minutes. The jail’s inmates were able to add extra loads from the shelters during their shifts, for which they are paid 39 cents per hour.

Rikers houses an estimated 11,000 inmates. It’s estimated 92 to 95 percent of the Rikers population is black or Latino.