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Lions Roar : January 2018
N A SMALL, CINDER-BLOCK ROOM lit by shards of afternoon sun sneaking in through windows in the ceiling, thirteen jail guards in dark blue uniforms sit quietly on gray plastic chairs. The only sound comes from the blow- ing fan and the occasional squawk of their handheld walkie-talkie radios. The room is labeled “chapel,” though the only sign of that purpose is a basic wooden altar and lectern in the front, shoved to the side. The guards—correctional officers, or “COs” in official parlance—softly confess the most difficult feelings they face daily to the man in a light blue shirt and tie sitting at the front of the room. “Tired,” one says. “Anxious,” another says. “Disappoint- ment,” says a third. “Anger,” says a fourth. “Sleepiness,” “lack of trust,” and “impatience” follow. Several guards mention variations on the theme of not wanting to be there, not wanting to be at work. PHOTO BY A. JESSE JIRYU DAVIS Disrupting Suffering in Rikers Island No one escapes suffering in Rikers Island. Not prisoners, not staff. JENNIFER KEISHIN ARMSTRONG profiles Justin von Bujdoss, the first-ever Buddhist chaplain in America’s most notorious jail. I LION’S ROAR | JANUARY 2018 35