Diane Sawyer Spends a Week Inside New York’s Rikers Island

By Mark Joyella 

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For a story to air Friday on Nightline, ABC’s Diane Sawyer spent seven days inside New York’s notorious Rikers Island correctional facility, the largest jail complex in America.

The report, which ABC News describes as two years in the making, includes “unprecedented” access–including time Sawyer spent in punitive segregation, or “the box,” a kind of solitary confinement where inmates are held in a cell for up to 23 hours a day. A new commissioner is set to end that practice for inmates between 18 and 21 years of age.

Sawyer is no stranger to the country’s prisons, having spent two days and two nights in a prison uniform at Metro State Prison for Women in Atlanta in 2004, and reporting on women in four prisons across the country over eight months for 2015’s A Nation of Women Behind Bars, a prime time special that last month won a Cine Golden Eagle award.

Hidden America: Inside Rikers Island airs Friday night on Nightline, with excerpts appearing on Good Morning America and World News Tonight.