Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Corruption Officer (BOOK REVIEW)

Corruption Officer
From Jail Guard to Perpetrator inside Rikers Island
by Gary L. Heyward
Atria Books
Paperback, $16.00
284 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4767-9432-7

Book Review by Kam Williams

“This shocking memoir from a former corrections officer… shares an eye-opening, gritty, and devastating account of his descent into criminal life, smuggling contraband inside the infamous Rikers Island jails. Gary Heyward… was warned of the temptations he’d encounter as a new officer, but when faced with financial hardship, he suddenly found himself unable to resist the income generated from selling contraband to inmates.
In his distinctive voice, Heyward takes you on a journey inside the walls of Rikers Island, showing how he teamed up with various inmates and other officers to develop a system that allowed him to profit from selling drugs inside the jail. Corruption Officer is… a rare insider’s look at a corrupt city jail.”
-- Excerpted from the back cover

After being honorably discharged from the Marines, Gary Heyward had a hard time finding a decent paying job. That took a toll on his marriage, so he ended up moving back in with his mother in Harlem, while his childhood sweetheart took custody of their two kids and returned home to stay with her own mom.
Gary’s fortunes changed for the better the fateful day in 1997 that he received a letter from the New York City Department of Corrections offering him a position as a prison guard. During basic training, he was warned by instructors that he could jeopardize his career by fraternizing with inmates.
And upon graduating from the Academy, he was assigned to work at the infamous facility on Rikers Island. Unfortunately, Gary didn’t keep his nose clean very long.
His descent into depraved behavior began with sleeping around with female officers, even going so far as to record the act. He would subsequently pass his cell around the locker room to impress his male colleagues with proof of each conquest. Next, he started smuggling contraband behind bars: coke, booze, telephones and whatever else convicts’ friends and relatives were willing to pay a pretty penny for.
Gary eventually escalated to pimping in an attempt to cater to his captive clienteles’ carnal needs, too. He referred to his whores as “copstitutes” since they were fellow corrections officers secretly supplementing their modest civil service salaries by fellating and fornicating with felons in Rikers’ utility closets.
All of the above is recounted in riveting fashion in Corruption Officer: From Jail Guard to Perpetrator inside Rikers Island, a jaw-dropping memoir that’s as demoralizing as it is shocking. After finishing this eye-opening page-turner, one can’t help but wonder how much hope there can be for a country where the cops are just as crooked and as degenerate as the outlaws they’re supposed to be protecting society from.
A brutally-honest confessional exposing the ugly underbelly of an American incarceration system that nobody really wants to take a long, hard look at.  

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