Picks and Pans Review: Lock-Up: the Prisoners of Rikers Island

updated 06/06/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/06/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

HBO (Mon., June 6, 10:15 p.m. ET)


Here's a tour of the largest jail complex in the country, Rikers island. The 415-acre holding facility that festers in New York City's East River is a stockade for 15,000 prisoners, most of them awaiting trial.

As we drift from one segregated unit to the next (men, women, gays, suicidals, paranoids), the documentary begins to seem like a descent through the nine circles of Dante's Inferno. Perhaps the saddest of all is the ward made up of pregnant women watching All My Children with dead eyes on a dinged-up communal TV set and using a clothes iron to make themselves grilled cheese sandwiches.

Welcome to the poller's field of the penal system. It's a terrifying little universe: the confinement, the constant cacophony, the rancid surroundings, the impending air of violence.

Sans narration, this is a shapeless film. But the footage speaks—forcefully—for itself.

From Our Partners