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|Mon, October 6, 2014 at 11:12 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Robin Kay Miller spent 20 years working as a city correction officer, locked away in a seedy world of rampant sex, drug abuse and back-stabbing.
And that was just the guards.
Miller, 53, who retired in 2005, says she's not surprised by the latest stories of criminality among correction officers - including three current and former Rikers officers charged after a city Department of Investigation probe into a guard network that smuggled drugs and violently attacked inmates.
A federal probe branded the 11,500-inmate jail a "broken institution"Â where guards routinely use excessive force and violate teen inmates' rights. Less than a month after the Aug. 4 report, Florence Finkle, the commissioner overseeing investigations at Rikers, resigned.
And following the 2-year Department of Justice investigation, Mayor de Blasio last week signed into law a bill that requires correction administrators to track and publish data on the use of solitary confinement.
Now Miller says she's ready to relate her own shocking experiences, which she says are symptomatic of a system infected for decades.
"This culture started long before the problems we're seeing today,"Â she tells The Post. "It became a blueprint for what we see today."Â
Miller doesn't exactly look the part of a correction officer. She's tall and slender and did some modeling when she was younger.
It's only once she talks - well, shouts - that her inner CO comes out.
"You don't talk soft after speaking to prisoners,"Â she says.
"They would try to recruit you from the time you entered the jails. Personnel was the first stop. Any halfway decent-looking female was targeted and placed there to see who could get the panties first."
And she says she had another trait that was unique among her female counterparts - she wanted to work, refusing to trade sex with her superiors for cushier jobs.
"I see these female officers who came in with me. They're in here giving [oral sex] and stuff so they don't have to work with these prisoners and work those areas," Miller says.
"This girl used to have a house in Queens where she would gather a bunch of [female] officers. The wardens would all go there and party.
"The officers wanted preferential treatment. They didn't want to have to work with the inmates. A lot of them just didn't want to work, so by doing [this] they could go to work or not go to work,"Â says Miller, who claimed her sister Theresa, also a correction officer at Rikers, "was part of it."Â
Miller was assigned to C-76 on Rikers - the main building for male inmates, today called the Eric M. Taylor Center - where she would oversee up to 100 prisoners.
At the time, there was just a handful of female guards, and Miller's class would be the first to include women assigned to B-post, locked behind a gate in the dorm area with the male prisoners - instead of inside A-station, an office with paperwork.
"Most females in my jail that were in office positions either had a family member with clout or was screwing a boss or someone with, as we would call it, "juice."
"They would try to recruit you from the time you entered the jails. Personnel was the first stop. Any halfway decent-looking female was targeted and placed there to see who could get the panties first. I've heard throughout the years, it is alleged, they were recruiting them from the academy. Sending them to the Poconos for sex parties. But that type of move was for the higher-ups."Â
Miller had none of it, she says.
"When the officers would sit next to me in the mess hall while I was trying to eat my meal, I would bluntly say, "I don't know why you sitting here. You ain't getting no p***y." No class, straight-up ghetto.
Inmates would also target female guards for sex, she adds.
"Some of these female [COs] are so gullible and insecure,"Â she says. "A con is exactly that - a con artist. They analyze us all day and know who is vulnerable."
Besides sex, Rikers was rife with drugs, she says.
"You go across the Rikers Island bridge, you see everybody lighting up weed - from wardens to captains to deputy wardens to corrections officers. Half of them coming there high, too," she says.
"This went on the whole '80s. It's probably still going on."Â she adds, saying COs would spark up in their cars after the last checkpoint onto the island.
And drug-dealing officers would target other guards - including her sister and a friend who both became addicted to crack, Miller says.
"When the new recruits come in, they know they were going to get a check. They're going to make money. They targeted my friend. She used to go in the bathroom and do crack during her tour," she says.
"My sister would work two weeks straight - do OT every day. Once she got that check, she'd spend it all,"Â she says.
Her older sister died of a heart attack in 2005.
Drug-dealing officers could pull in an extra $2,000 minimum a week.
"That's why when you look in the parking lot, there were some serious cars,"Â she says. "You got paid."Â
Miller worked at Rikers from 1983 to 1985, then went on leave for more than two years to give birth to and raise her daughter. She would later work jails near the Manhattan Detention Complex and at Brooklyn courts.
"[In] every jail there was an officer dealing drugs," she said. "And it's no secret they were getting high off cocaine, smoking weed and drinking. From officers up to chiefs."
Miller grew up in tough Brownsville, Brooklyn, where she boasts that the neighborhood motto is "Never ran, never will."Â
"I grew up in the ghetto, so to me, jail was just like being on the street,"Â she says.
Still, she encountered the unexpected in jail.
"You know what was shocking to me? I thought there were females in there, but it was homosexual inmates. Male inmates dressed as females,"Â Miller recalls. "Some of them had breasts. They were doing the hormones. And they had the tight pants on. They used to sew their pants down to make them tight, and they used to use the Kool-Aid and Vaseline as lipstick and eyeliner."
"I was like, They got females here with the guys? That's how naive I was."Â
She soon learned the ropes - and laid down the law.
"No fighting. No cursing. No flooding the toilets and no stinking," she says. "I couldn't take that [body odor]. I'd give them soap, tell them to wash their arms. I'd also burn incense back there.
Ã¢â‚¬Å"I ran a tight ship. My thing was this is your house. But if you come around me, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t come around me dangling, either. Have your clothes on; I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to see your d-Ã¢â‚¬Å -k.Ã¢â‚¬Â
She would occasionally give an inmate an extra snack Ã¢â‚¬" maybe a cheese sandwich. But other guards, she says, had more intimate arrangements.
Ã¢â‚¬Å"You had a lot of male officers pulling the inmates out of their cells at night, to get [oral sex],Ã¢â‚¬Â Miller says.
Ã¢â‚¬Å"One officer was pulling the same inmate out Ã¢â‚¬" I guess this was his regular. He would go to the mess hall, get a glove, put it on his penis Ã¢â‚¬" you know they have the thick ones in Rikers, extra protection. He would put on the glove, make him give him [oral sex], and then he would give him stuff.
Ã¢â‚¬Å"Well, he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t give the inmate whatever he was supposed to give him this time. And the inmate .Ã¢â‚¬â€°.Ã¢â‚¬â€°. bit his penis off.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The officer, she says, later committed suicide.
A Department of Correction spokesman would only confirm MillerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s years of service and that she is retired.
Ã¢â‚¬Å"People telling me to shut up? ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s like telling a rape victim she shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have worn that miniskirt.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Miller says she rarely had problems with inmates. Fellow officers were another story, she says.
Ã¢â‚¬Å"Any time you go to any job, you become new meat. So me going there young, halfway decent looking Ã¢â‚¬" they were jealous,Ã¢â‚¬Â she says.
A group once tried to push her down a flight of stairs, she says.
Ã¢â‚¬Å"One held her arms out so I couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t walk past. And the other one put her foot out so I could trip,Ã¢â‚¬Â she says.
Another time, she says, she said something Ã¢â‚¬Å"slickÃ¢â‚¬Â to a male officer, who punched her in the face and, during a scuffle, broke her finger.
But when she complained Ã¢â‚¬" or when she wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do what it took to get a plum job Ã¢â‚¬" she got the worst assignments, such as a post where youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re forced to stand for eight hours.
Ã¢â‚¬Å"They call it Ã¢â‚¬Ëœbeing on the burn,Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬â€°Ã¢â‚¬Â she says.
Since retiring, Miller says, she has been in a self-imposed prison Ã¢â‚¬" her home in Woodhaven, Queens. The curtains are tightly drawn and sunlight is treated as an uninvited guest.
Ã¢â‚¬Å"I felt a lot of guilt because my sister died, even though I know the correction-officer drug dealer didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t twist her arm and make her do drugs,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Miller, who is just now coming out of a depression.
Says sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s finishing a memoir and has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to get it published. She has dreams of turning her story into a movie Ã¢â‚¬" and says sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s prepared for any backlash.
Ã¢â‚¬Å"People telling me to shut up? ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s like telling a rape victim she shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have worn that miniskirt,Ã¢â‚¬Â she says.
On Monday, a Department of Correction edict aimed at combating the smuggling of weapons and contraband will take effect. Officers will be frisked and their belongings and lunches X-rayed as they arrive.
Miller says she isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t surprised.
Ã¢â‚¬Å"ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s wild Ã¢â‚¬" the power of the badge and abuse of that power, plus money, equals disaster for some. There is a thin line between inmate and officer. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s easy to cross over.Ã¢â‚¬Â
|Mon, August 18, 2014 at 11:41 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
GRAMMY NOMINATED RECORDING ARTIST RAHEEM DEVAUGHN & THE LOVELIFE FOUNDATION PRESENT THE FIRST ANNUAL BLACK MEN'S SUMMIT & TOWN HALL DISCUSSION ON THURSDAY, AUGUST 21, 2014
WHO: Roland Martin (Host) - American journalist, syndicated columnist, author, commentator (TV One) and (News One Now); Raheem DeVaughn - Three-Time Grammy Nominated singer/songwriter; Jeff Johnson- Award-winning journalist, social activist, political commentator, and author; Pastor W. Lamar Staples - Associate Pastor, The Temple of Praise, Washington, DC; Pastor Jabari Douglas- Pastor, Kingdom Worship Center, Upper Marlboro, MD; Dr. George Holmes - Member of President Barack Obama's National African American Clergy Leadership Working Group and Chaplain of the District of Columbia Democratic State Committee; Reverend Lennox Yearwood - President and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus; Mr. Ed Davies, Executive Director of the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Company; Tony Lewis, Jr.-Community Activist & Founder Of Sons Of Life
WHAT: Taking into consideration the untimely deaths of Eric Garner and Mike Brown, the First Annual Black Male Summit & Town Hall presented by the LoveLife Foundation seeks to dispel the negative portrayal of Black males in the American society. Inspired by the poem, Invictus, to reflect the change one wants to seek in the world, the theme of the inaugural summit is "I AM THE MASTER OF MY FATE". The Black Male Summit & Town Hall Meeting will highlight accurate information and data on where and how Black males are achieving. This signature event will also provide solutions to properly identify, improve and respond to encourage empowerment and growth.
*Note: This Event will be the first of a series of events introducing the city to the Foundation with the very first annual - Raheem Devaughn's LoveLife Foundation Charity Weekend, August 22 - 24, 2014. A full list of the Weekend's Events can be provided upon request.
WHEN: Thursday, August 21, 2014
Press Conference --6:00pm
Summit & Town Hall: 7:00pm - 9:00pm
WHERE: The Temple of Praise, 700 Southern Avenue, SE, Washington, DC
CONTACT: Syreta J. Oglesby of SJO PR at email@example.com or 201-658-3711
For more information, please visit www.lovelifefoundationdmv.org and connect via Twitter @LoveLifeDMV and Instagram @lovelifedmv.