Last U.S. prison ship in NYC set to close. Why was it open this long?

Kenneth Williams spent his whole life in Brooklyn, but it wasn’t until a night in 2018 when he crossed a narrow footbridge in shackles, that he learned about New York City’s last floating jail. He remembers the murky East River water below him, the stench of mold, and a sinking feeling that soon turned literal.

“Every once in a while you could feel the boat dropping into the muck,” Williams said. “It was a stark reminder that this place wasn’t meant for human confinement.”

Docked in the shallows off an industrial edge of the South Bronx, the Vernon C. Bain Correctional Center is a five-story jail barge that stretches the length of two football fields, resembling a container ship stacked with cargo.

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