By Sarina Trangle
A retired correction officer’s memoirs of her days at Rikers Island are so racy she is raising money for a lawyer to proof the pages.
Robin Kay Miller, 52, took to the online fund-raising hub Kickstarter to help turn the manuscript she has spent years laboring on in her Woodhaven home into a book and movie.
She intends to detail what she described as rampant drug dealing by city Department of Correction staff in the 1980s, frequent unprompted physical abuse of inmates and a culture where female recruits were rewarded for engaging in sexual relations with officers.
Miller, who wrote and produced a few dozen videos with the Tak’n’ova Entertainment movie company she once ran, said the push to publish comes after the death of her sister, a corrections officer who Miller contends became addicted to crack because of co-workers in the department. She also has been motivated by the violence against Rikers inmates that has made headlines and prompted a federal probe.
“By the time I finish, it’s going to change,” Miller said. “By corrections officers not correcting, they’re making it worse for all of us.”
“Brownsville, East New York is a war zone,” she added, saying the neighborhood she grew up in illustrates how Correction abuses affect entire communities. “A lot of people have been to jail and a lot of prisoners got abused — abused at home and abused in jail.”
Miller said her book, titled “Sex-Crack-Guns: My Life as a Rikers Island Female Correction Officer,” will focus on her, her sister’s and other colleagues’ experiences while working on the island off the coast of northwest Queens that houses several correction facilities.
Highlights include an officer whose genitals were allegedly bitten off by an inmate because the guard did not hand over whatever resources he usually did during their alleged sexual trysts; a co-worker who was arrested when he allegedly showed up to work with 4 kilos of cocaine strapped to his waist; and a Poconos home used to host alleged drug and sexual escapades with academy graduates who were later given preferential assignments.
The movie will take a more holistic approach to the criminal justice system, Miller said.
Both the book and movie will be salacious enough to merit a close look by lawyers.
“The reason I went on Kickstarter is because my main thing is the legal team. I know there’s certain things that I can say and cannot say, so I want to cover myself,” said Miller.
The city Department of Corrections did not respond to requests for comment or confirm Miller’s career with the department.
But Miller showed the TimesLedger a Correction badge, ID and gun permit as well as pension paperwork and a 1984 complaint addressed to Warden Vernon Bain, who oversaw the men’s detention center on Rikers at the time.
Miller hopes to raise $50,000, mostly for a legal team to protect her from any libel or slander suits, but also for production of the still-untitled movie and editing and publishing assistance with the book.
Miller said she started as a corrections officers at Rikers March 7, 1983. After a year in a half, she moved to the Manhattan and Brooklyn courts and worked in the same capacity before retiring in July 2005.
The idea of a book came to her when her older sister, Theresa Miller, died after a battle with crack addiction. Miller said she helped her sibling get a job at Rikers in 1985, and her sister quickly became a victim of fellow Correction officers selling drugs in the prisons.
By 1987, Miller said her relative was kicked out of the department and arrested.
“She robbed a lady on the church steps on a Sunday, that’s how bad the crack had her,” Miller said, noting her sister served time in prison, got clean and worked as a substance abuse counselor before relapsing a few times and ultimately dying from addiction and HIV.
“I miss her. I got to do this book for her,” she said.
Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.