Inside notorious Rikers Island jail where Weinstein could die behind grim bars02/25/2020
Rat ridden cells, dirty food, vicious assaults and intense fear – sex attacker Harvey Weinstein will soon be swapping a life luxury for the grim reality of America's toughest prison.
The convicted rapist will now officially be known as prisoner 06581138Z in the hellhole prison while he awaits sentencing for his harrowing sex attacks.
Forget red carpets, on arrival, the disgraced movie mogul will be stripped of his designer clothes, full body searched and be dumped into a scratchy second hand tan jumpsuit.
After a judge seals his fate, Weinstein will be given an orange boiler suit as his uniform – a far cry from his usual attire of silk ties and made to measure jackets.
Although ordered straight to Rikers Island, the shamed producer was diverted to New York’s Bellevue Hospital while en route to Rikers last night, complaining of chest pains, high blood pressure and heart palpitations following the verdict.
His attorney, Donna Rotunno, said he was admitted but was “ok” — and that he was expected to arrive at Rikers Island after doctors clear him for release.
The prison is New York's most notorious jail, having housed high-profile inmates like Tupac Shakur and Mark David Chapman – the man who shot and killed Beatles singer John Lennon.
Other famous jailbirds include musician Sid Vicious, rappers Foxy Brown, DMX, and Lil Wayne and David Berkowitz, better known as the Son of Sam serial killer who shot eight people dead in New York City in the summer of 1976.
The number of inmates at Rikers has fallen from around 20,000 in the 1990s to around 7,000 today.
The 400-acre island in the East River, connected by bridge to the borough of Queens, is home to nine jails.
Most inmates are defendants awaiting trial or serving sentences of less than one year.
The 1932-built jail – where violence and neglect are so entrenched that Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed in 2017 to close it down within a decade – is expected to be a hellhole for the rapist.
Lawyers and criminologists have been calling for the infamous jail's closure for years, citing its age and remote location, which makes family visits difficult.
In 2015, federal prosecutors in New York concluded that guards routinely abused inmates at the jail after an investigation.
And in 2016, a man serving time for robbery offences sued authorities, claiming a prison guard belittled the size of his penis.
Anthony Malik Ellis claimed he was caused "mental anguish" by the incident, and filed a suit with the Manhattan federal court.
He alleged a female guard manhandled him in a stairway where there were no cameras.
In Weinstein’s trial, his rape victim Jessica Mann, 34, told the jury the first time she saw Weinstein naked she thought he was “intersex” or a burns victim, claiming he does not have testicles and his penis “looks like a vagina”.
Weinstein's Monday morning began with expensive coffee and Acqua Panna mineral water at a fancy breakfast meeting with his lawyers in a Four Seasons hotel near Manhattan's criminal courts.
It ended with him being handcuffed and sent straight to the grim jail.
According to the memoirs of former prisoners who have survived the prison, the rapist’s new breakfast platter will consist of a plan cereal resembling something similar to Rice Krispies.
During the short amount of time prisoners are allowed outside in the afternoon, the general population exercise among the mental observation ward, where all manner of child molesters, elder abusers, rapists and murderers dosed up on heavy medication run amok.
For dinner, Weinstein can expect hot dogs that former inmates claim will “instantly give him diarrhoea", or even meatloaf, if he’s lucky.
In 2015, 19 prisoners sued Rikers authorities over claims they were made sick by a meatloaf containing rat poison.
A lawyer for the inmates claimed laboratory testing confirmed there was rodenticide in the food at Rikers Island.
The lawsuit alleged the inmates suffered vomiting, diarrhoea and even bleeding after eating the meatloaf and that they were not provided with proper medical treatment.
It’s not clear in what kind of room or cell Weinstein would be held, but there are a number of accommodation options to ensure his stay is not pleasant.
There are bunk rooms housing up to 40 inmates, which reportedly have beeping hospital machines to monitor vital signs.
Or he may end up in a private or semi-private cell, as often happens with inmates who risk being threatened by others.
A lawyer for Weinstein reminded Judge James Burke on Monday of some of her client's ailments, so they could be taken into consideration.
He takes several medications and requires injections in his eyes to forestall blindness because of his diabetes.
He entered and left the Manhattan court each day leaning on a walker, a remnant, according to his lawyers, of back surgery he had in December.
However, this zimmer frame was spotted abandoned in the courtroom after he was sent down.
Despite his “ailing” health, New York City's Department of Correction declined to say where on the island he would be sent.
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