The Story

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On a desolate island, ten miles North of Manhattan, inmates from Riker's Island Jail volunteer to bury the unclaimed and unidentified dead of New York City. The remains are buried in unnamed communal plots, each trench holding an estimated 150 adults. Amongst these decedents are also the remains of stillborn babies, a sign of the city’s infant mortality rate. The infants are buried 1,000 per trench. Over one million individuals have been interred on Hart Island since 1869. 

Over the past decade, families and advocates led by artist Melinda Hunt, have been requesting visitation rights to the gravesites. However, the NYC Department of Correction restricts access, claiming security concerns, therefore keeping the mourning families far from their deceased loved ones.