According to the charges, McMillian elbowed Officer Bovell in the face, however she claimed it was in self-defense after she says he grabbed her chest so hard during an Occupy Wall Street protest that it left a bruise.
McMillian entered Rikers Island as an Occupy Wall Street activist, but is leaving as an activist for women prisoners.
“Incarceration is meant to prevent crime. Its purpose is to penalize and then return us to the outside world ready to start anew,” McMillian said. “The world I saw at Rikers isn’t concerned with that. Many of the tactics employed seem to be aimed at simple dehumanization.”
Today she is speaking out for the women of the Rikers Island wing known as the Rose M. Singer Center. Her goal is to improve the functionality of the system and provide the inmates with more rights as they serve their sentence.
“On the outside, I spent my time fighting for freedom and rights, on the inside I discovered a world where words like freedom and rights don’t even exist in the first place,” she said.
While serving out her 90-day sentence, McMillian teamed up with her fellow inmates on a list of demands to make prison more humane.
The first demand is that inmates are provided with sufficient health care in a timely manner, including mental care services.
McMillian said she recently loss her friend Judith, a fellow inmate, due to malpractice. The inmate’s death followed a period of coughing up blood after her methadone prescription was increased. She was refused medical care.
The second demand is implementing regulations to require correctional officers to follow the protocol that is spelled out in the inmate handbook. This would include a better system of filing complaints against officers.
McMillian explains direct examples of how inmate’s complaints aren’t taken seriously and often doctored in the favor of the officer.
“Inmates should be able to trust that situations like that will not occur and our safety and dignity be respected by those designated to supervise us,” she said.
The final demand is that the women of Rikers Island be provided with more educational services.
“We will continue to fight until we gain all the rights we are deserving as a citizen of this city, of this state, and the United States of America,” McMillian said.