Wrongly Imprisoned for Three Years, Kalief Browder Commits Suicide
A 21-year-old New York man who spent three years in a city jail as a teen and was subjected to beatings by guards but never charged with a crime has committed suicide, the New York Daily News reports.
Using an air-conditioning cord, Kalief Browder hanged himself at his family’s Bronx home Saturday night. Before he took his own life, Browder told his mother, “Ma, I can’t take it anymore.”
In 2010, Browder was arrested after a teenager accused him of robbing him of his backpack, which Browder denied. His family didn’t have the $10,000 bail money to get him out of jail, so the teen stayed at Riker’s Island awaiting a trial that never arrived. After 33 months, Browder was offered a plea deal that he ended up rejecting. During that time, he spent more than 400 days in solitary confinement, endured beatings by jail guards, was abused by other inmates, and attempted suicide several times.
The robbery charges were dropped and Browder was released in May of 2013. Between the time he was released and the day he took his own life, he tried his best to get his life together. Browder enrolled in Bronx Community College, but his experiences of abuse at Riker’s Island continued to haunt and traumatize him. Bouts with depression and suicidal ideation were common; Browder tried to kill himself several times after his release.
The young man gained support from celebrities such as Jay Z and talk-show host Rosie O’Donnell. Browder’s story pushed Mayor Bill de Blasio to reform rules so that inmates under 21 cannot be placed in solitary confinement.
His lawyer, Paul V. Prestia, had this to say after his client’s suicide, according to The New Yorker. “When you go over the three years that he spent [in jail] and all the horrific details he endured, it’s unbelievable that this could happen to a teen-ager in New York City. He didn’t get tortured in some prison camp in another country. It was right here!”