Cyree Jarelle Johnson's poetry collection depicts visions of the global climate crisis through the prism of the country's incarceration machine, looking at the atmospheric chaos of a dystopian future inside the social maelstrom of the prison-industrial complex. Focusing on the iconic real-life nightmare of a dissaster on New York City's Rikers Island jail complex, the work encapsulates the contemporary politics surrounding the facility today, and marks the first stage of an ongoing work-in-progress.
Reports have surfaced of torture and abuse of immigrants in federal detention, though perhaps the stories come too late. The migrants have been sent back to their countries of origin already, part of a group of 85 South Asian asylum seekers who were repatriated on a charter flight after they had attempted and failed to secure humanitarian relief. As far as the US government is concerned, they are non-persons, aliens, and so they were "removed", excised from the American body politic. Today many are back in a hostile homeland, fearing political persecution and mob violence.
Most of us hear and see only cursory mentions of "immigrant detention" on the news--it's a clinical label, scrubbed of all the visceral emotion and social tension that constricts detained migrants just as forcefully as their cell walls do. Last year we saw flashes of the migrant detention crisis with images of kids huddled under blankets, exhausted from trekking across the continent, and of European asylum seekers thronging against metal gates and braving giant plumes of tear gas.