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Experience

Ismael Nazario: What I learned as a kid in jail

As a teenager, Ismael Nazario was sent to New York’s Rikers Island jail, where he spent 300 days in solitary confinement — all before he was ever convicted of a crime. Now as a prison reform advocate he works to change the culture of American jails and prisons, where young people are frequently subjected to violence beyond imagination. Nazario tells his chilling story and suggests ways to help, rather than harm, teens in jail.

Prison reform advocate Ismael Nazario helps former inmates from New York's Rikers Island jail reenter society.

At the Fortune Society, Ismael Nazario helps former inmates from New York's Rikers Island jail reintegrate into society after their release. The issue is close to home for Nazario: When he was just shy of eighteen he was arrested for robbery and sent to Rikers Island, where he spent 300 days in solitary confinement before he was ever convicted of a crime. Now as part of the I-CAN (Individualized Correction Achievement Network) program, he helps those at high risk for recidivism get jobs and stay out of jail and prison.

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