In the fourth episode of Stay Melo, Carmelo Anthony visits New York City's notorious Rikers Island jail complex to tour the facility and meet with a group of young prisoners. I'm a big fan of Carmelo and his wife LaLa, who actually started out as a WBLS intern on my radio show. Check out Carmelo below.
"I know a lot of the inmates just want hope."
Why did you want to visit Rikers Island?
Carmelo: Rikers is a place that we’ve all heard of. I was amazed to find out that it’s the largest penal colony in the world. Recently, we’ve heard and read a lot about abuse and violence there. I wanted to see the situation there for myself, as a New Yorker.
What's your personal experience with the criminal justice system?
Carmelo: I grew up in the projects in Red Hook, Brooklyn and in Baltimore. You can’t grow up there without seeing many people close to you unfortunately end up in prison.
Why did you specifically choose to visit with young prisoners?
Carmelo: I thought that the young prisoners would have more of a chance to make their situations better once they got home again. I hope by visiting and talking with them, I might play a small part in helping them have a better situation when they're out.
How did the visit differ from what you expected?
Carmelo: I’m not sure what I expected. I knew it wasn’t going to be pleasant. And, it wasn’t. At all. It was extremely disturbing.
What did you gain from the experience?
Carmelo: We need to do a better job making sure non-violent offenders don’t end up in the same prison situation as highly violent repeat criminals. And we need to make sure that incarceration leads to rehabilitation.