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Exhibition Drawing Justice: The Art of Courtroom Illustration

Marilyn Church. Prison Conditions Hearing, October 23, 1986. Colored pencil, water-soluble crayon, and porous point pen on ochre paper. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (099.00.00)
LC-DIG-ppmsca-51145 © Marilyn Church
Gift of the family of Marilyn Church

Rikers Island Prisoners Sue for Better Conditions

In Fisher v. Koehler, 692 F.Supp. 1519 (1988), Judge Morris Lasker heard a case about the culture of violence at Rikers Island prison. The hearing on the preliminary injunction began on October 23, 1986. Dale A. Wilker, who worked for the Legal Aid Society, represented the prisoners, including James Crosby who is shown testifying in court. Crosby had been arrested for shoplifting and during the three months he spent at Rikers for parole violations was stabbed twice. The prisoners argued that their Eighth Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment had been violated. Diane J. Morgenroth, represented the city of New York. Judge Lasker believed the judicial system had to intervene in the prison system "when either the legislature, or the executive, or both, are failing in their duties to assure constitutionally adequate conditions."

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