Today marks two years since Kalief Browder took his own life in 2015 at the age of 22, after being held in jail for nearly three years without trial for a crime he did not commit.
In November, DN! spoke with Akeem Browder, Kalief’s older brother. He is the founder of the Campaign to Shut Down Rikers. Today we share a second part of his interview that has never been broadcast before. We spoke with him shortly after his family held a memorial service for Venida Browder, who died "of a broken heart" 16 months after her son hanged himself in his Bronx home.
Kalief was just 16 years old in 2010 when he was sent to Rikers Island jail in New York City on suspicion of stealing a backpack. He always maintained his innocence and demanded a trial. Instead, he spent the next nearly three years at Rikers—nearly 800 days of that time in solitary confinement. Near the end of his time in jail, the judge offered to sentence him to time served if he entered a guilty plea, and told him he could face 15 years in prison if he went to trial and was convicted. Kalief still refused to accept the plea deal. He was only released when the case was dismissed. While in Rikers, Kalief was repeatedly assaulted by guards and other prisoners. His brother explains in this interview that he was repeatedly denied food by guards while he was in solitary confinement.
Sign up for Our Newsletter
Get updates about the policies and topics that matter the most to you. Progressive news directly to your email.