Fordham A2J Initiative Gets Students Inside Infamous Rikers Island


The Rikers event presented by the A2J Initiative at Fordham Law was featured in an ABA Journal article.

Deema Nagib, a third-year student at Fordham University School of Law, has traveled dozens of times to the notorious Rikers Island jail complex to meet with detainees who shared horror stories with her about life inside.

Fordham has been encouraging students like Nagib to become engaged in a variety of programs to expose them to the criminal justice system and help ensure greater access to justice. The school last year launched its A2J Initiative to bring it all together.

“Access to justice is a critical issue in our society,” Fordham Law School Dean Matthew Diller said. “The A2J program is really a connecting thread to all we do here.” As a Jesuit university, Fordham is committed to providing education in the service to others. “That has a deep resonance within our community of students, faculty and alumni.”

One of the initiative’s most recent programs was a Feb. 20 panel discussion moderated by 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley about the impending closure of Rikers. The program featured several clips from a recent documentary, Rikers: An American Jail, by Bill Moyers in which detainees describe the dangers, the humiliation and fears of being incarcerated there.

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