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Kalief Browder commits suicide after being brutalized in NY jail; how many others are suffering?

Kalief Browder (Photo Source ABC News)

Kalief Browder (Photo source: ABC News)

The story of Kalief Browder, 21, is one of abuse, triumph and tragedy.

In 2010 at the age of 16, Browder was arrested by police as a suspect in the robbery of a backpack from another teen, Browder was locked up at Rikers Island for three years, unable to raise the $10,000 needed for bail. After a long bout with depression and emotional trauma, Browder committed suicide this past weekend.

Browder’s life became a living nightmare while he awaited trial. He endured countless beatings, not only from inmates but also from corrections officers. The abuse was not only physical but also mental and emotional as he spent at least 400 days in solitary confinement. His case raised national outcries for leniency and prison reform not only for Browder, but also for the multitude of other teenagers who are placed in solitary confinement for long periods of time.

In January 2015. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio prohibited the solitary confinement of inmates under the age of 21 agreeing that the practice was too harsh and inflicted long-term emotional and physical damage. In 2013, after three years in prison, Browder was released when all charges were dropped. But the damage had already been done to Browder. He attempted suicide several times and once tried to hang himself in his cell with his bed sheet tied to a light fixture. Despite celebrity encounters and support from Jay Z, Rosie O’Donnell and Rand Paul, Browder just could not escape the emotional trauma of his incarceration.  This past Friday night he reportedly told his mother, “Ma, I can’t take it anymore” and on Saturday he hung himself by using an air conditioning cord.

The story of Kalief Browder is not an isolated case in this country. The inability to afford bail even if you are innocent creates a hardship and undeserved incarceration. Many times prosecutors are aware that charges against an individual may be weak and without merit. But because of the atmosphere of getting a conviction at all costs, prosecutors will allow a person to spend excessive time in jail in an effort to coerce defendants to agree to a plea deal. Even if no investigation has been done, the incarcerated individual is innocent. Prosecutors are fully aware of the horrors of prison and count on these horrors to wear a person down,

The current school-to-prison pipeline makes the situation even more tragic when Black youth are five times more likely to be incarcerated than White youths, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The number of juveniles in youth detention centers in 2010 was estimated to be approximately 70,800. It is estimated that close to 40 percent of that number are jailed in for profit facilities. There are many others like Kalief Browder in America’s correctional system. The question is how many more will meet a tragic death awaiting juvenile prison reform?


  1. honeybutter on June 8, 2015 at 9:18 am

    there is a young man in MISSOURI PRISON SYSTEM HE HAS BEEN THER SINCE HE WAS ONLY 13 .. a murder done by two other juvenile landed him in prison because the other two juvenile killed the boy and pinned it on lorenzo.. he was ppor , raised by a grand moma cause his moma was on crack ., HIS NAME IS LORENZO BURNS … THIS IS A TRAGEDY FOR SURE … THIS BOY REPORTED THAT WEN HE BECAME AN ADULT AT 18 THEY MOVED HIM TO PRISON FOR ADULT MEN . .he reported being beat , sodomized, and teh guards also harrassed him and beat him , he said he end up doing long stints in solidary confinement because he could not be rapped by men , and mistreated by guards . lorenzo did nothing to be in prison and i want to campaign for his release he been in since 1997 and now he is a man .. and still report abuse by rappist males . … i felt so bad for him if you want to wage support email me at [email protected] .. please lets get him out of there … a lot of damage is done he told me he feel suicidal .. and the above story rings a bell to me …. thanks

  2. Nigg.Newton on June 8, 2015 at 9:44 am

    If you POOR, Black and a MALE…

    Stay the F—-K out of the POLICE face, and go to SCHOOL, Home, and NOT in the Hood…

    Let’s not act like this BLACK MAN was a “CHOIRBOY” at his local church.

    • andalso on June 8, 2015 at 2:14 pm

      no need to look for trouble on these sites… God got big plans for people like you.

      • Nigg.Newton on June 8, 2015 at 2:28 pm

        Don’t put GOD into MAN-MADE problems…that’s Blaspheme!

        Read your bible…SON…read your bible.

        GOD gave man a conscience for him to use.

        • andalso on June 8, 2015 at 3:02 pm

          be blessed and enjoy your life.

        • The Truth on June 8, 2015 at 3:13 pm

          A person conscience mind should be used for guilt, when a person have done something wrong not for judging anyone. Whether he was a choirboy or not he didn’t deserve to die or be incarcerated. Innocent until proven guilty…prison life is no joke! READ YOUR BIBLE, JUDGE AND YE SHALL BE JUDGED!!!

    • honeybutter on June 8, 2015 at 8:13 pm

      this kid did go to a school at this time you idiot , he just come up poor , with not the advantage as a rich kid from the suburbs had , his father died when he was a baby . and his moma had sever health issues .. YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU TALKING ABOUT . he had never been in any trouble before that incident . .he was coming home from school and got a murder pinnned on him . he wasnt at the scene of the murder there is proof of this ., no need to be rude your so negative its pothetic lady

    • namedmesunshine on June 9, 2015 at 12:16 am

      You sound as ignorant as your name

    • namedmesunshine on June 9, 2015 at 12:17 am

      many criminals like Bush and wall street bankers are educated criminals..this is about his right to a fair trial.

    • ColorsOfAlgebra on June 26, 2015 at 6:33 pm

      How many cops do you pass on the way to and from school or work?

  3. Helenofreims on June 10, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    Fully aware situation NY state agencies to assist. Disable dept of corrections guilty allowing to occur?
    Browder family has my condolence you need file. Law suit rather placid reaction hateful crooks whom. Destroy justice to retain oppression policies sadly. Kalief didn’t have strength nor help which needed.