The incredible story of how a 16-year-old high school sophomore from the Bronx ended up spending nearly three years locked up at the Rikers jail in New York City after he says he was falsely accused of stealing a backpack.
interview by democracy now:
85% of people at rikers – not convicted95% of cases are plea bargainsa ki – 16 yrs – after 2.5 yrs – 2 yrs in solitary – gets a plea offer – and he declines – he could not have been greater pressure to plead.. he says, “i’m all right.. i’m not guilty.”over and over – prosecutors: “people not ready.. request more time”worksheets slipped under door – not often picked upkalief attempted suicide several times..solitary was almost addictive
Browder had already had a few run-ins with the police, ..Browder was charged with grand larceny. He told me that his friends drove the truck and that he had only watched, but he figured that he had no defense, and so he pleaded guilty. The judge gave him probation and “youthful offender” status, which insured that he wouldn’t have a criminal record.[..]There are not nearly enough judges and court staff to handle the workload; in 2010, Browder’s case was one of five thousand six hundred and ninety-five felonies that the Bronx District Attorney’s office prosecuted. The problem is compounded by defense attorneys who drag out cases to improve their odds of winning, judges who permit endless adjournments, prosecutors who are perpetually unprepared. Although the Sixth Amendment guarantees “the right to a speedy and public trial,” in the Bronx the concept of speedy justice barely exists.[..]e was the youngest of seven siblings; except for the oldest two, all the children were adopted, and the mother fostered other children as well.[..]if the inmates went to the clinic and told the medical staff what had happened, they would write up charges against them, and get them sent to solitary confinement.[..]Many states have so-called speedy-trial laws, which require trials to start within a certain time frame. New York State’s version is slightly different, and is known as the “ready rule.” This rule stipulates that all felony cases (except homicides) must be ready for trial within six months of arraignment, or else the charges can be dismissed. In practice, however, this time limit is subject to technicalities. The clock stops for many reasons—….. In 2011, seventy-four per cent of felony cases in the Bronx were older than six months……… People not ready….People not ready….People not ready[..]
When Browder first went to Rikers, his brother had advised him to get himself sent to solitary whenever he felt at risk from other inmates. “I told him, ‘When you get into a house and you don’t feel safe, do whatever you have to to get out,’ ” the brother said. “ ….Even in solitary, however, violence was a threat. Verbal spats with officers could escalate. At one point, Browder said, “I had words with a correction officer, and he told me he wanted to fight.
At the start of 2013, there were nine hundred and fifty-two felony cases in the Bronx, including Browder’s, that were more than two years old. In the next twelve months, DiMango disposed of a thousand cases, some as old as five years.
Without the Complainant, we are unable to meet our burden of proof at trial,” the prosecutor wrote
When he saw old friends, he was reminded of their accomplishments and what he had not achieved: no high-school diploma, no job, no money, no apartment of his own.
Ever since Browder left Rikers, he has tried to stay busy. He sat through G.E.D. prep classes, signed up for a computer course, searched for a job, and attended weekly counselling sessions. This past March, he learned that he had passed the G.E.D. on the first try. “I gained some of my pride back,” he told me.
He told me that he liked Wall Street—being surrounded by people with briefcases and suits, everyone walking with a sense of purpose. “When I see professional people, I see myself,” he said. “I say, ‘I want to be like them.’ ”
This month, Browder started classes at Bronx Community College. But, even now, he thinks about Rikers every day. He says that his flashbacks to that time are becoming more frequent. Almost anything can trigger them.
“I’m trying to break out of my shell, but I guess there is no shell. I guess this is just how I am—I’m just quiet and distant,” he says. “I don’t like being this way, but it’s just natural to me now.”
“Before I went to jail, I didn’t know about a lot of stuff, and, now that I’m aware, I’m paranoid,” he says. “I feel like I was robbed of my happiness.”
4:20 – talks about plea10 min – attempted suicide 5-6 times.. beaten and put back in cell – except last time16 min – bail was 10,000 – for stealing backpack21 min – this happens every day – i have to tell the story
april 2015 – videos via democracy now of Kalief in rikers:
june 2015 – rip
He wanted the public to know what he had gone through, so that nobody else would have to endure the same ordeals.
voices. from all over. in our heads/hearts. begging us all to wake up.
let’s wake up. no?
“A community is infinitely more brutalised by habitual employment of punishment than it is by occasional occurrence of crime” Oscar Wilde
june 2015 – democracy now
letter from Shaka
Marlon on Kalief:
We did not care to check in with our humanity,
june 2015 –
Kalief Browder’s Writings Tell Horrors Of Solitary Confinement – http://t.co/waqeBroZ3t
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/pprestiaesq/status/613518046800543744
“By the late 1800’s,” Browder continues, “solitary confinement began to be frowned upon because of the adverse mental health issues it continued to cause to inmates and by the early 1900’s it was abolished.”
Browder’s attorney, Paul Prestia, read a copy of the research paper before going to Browder’s funeral, at which he delivered the eulogy.
“I learned something from [the research paper] and I’m an expert of sorts on solitary confinement,” Prestia told HuffPost.
“I don’t believe there’s any place for solitary in our society,” he added. “It’s inhumane and I wasn’t aware of its history, and now I am, and I learned it from Kalief Browder, who was the face of [solitary confinement] in this city.”
Browder’s paper goes on to detail the aggressive resurgence of solitary confinement in the 1980s, and its overuse in the ensuing decades.
He cites a 2013 article in the Law and Psychology Review, in which John Cockrell lists the physical effects of solitary confinement (“chest pains, weight loss, diarrhea, dizziness, and fainting”) and its psychological effects (“decreased ability to concentrate, confusion, memory loss, visual as well as auditory hallucinations, paranoia, overt psychosis, violent fantasies, anxiety, depression in huge numbers, lethargy, and trouble sleeping”).
And then, in a sentence that today carries an awful poignancy, Browder writes: “Attempts to commit suicide are not uncommon.”
Prestia said he hopes New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will read Browder’s paper.
for a large number of inmates to starve themselves to raise attention to the issue of solitary confinement speaks volumes of the mental tortures it consist of
on the video..
i could be completely off here.. (ie: i’m deciding what other people are thinking from watching a 2 min video of them).. but i can’t not add – because i believe it’s a glimmer of the implication of all of us.. in Kalief’s death, in many deaths, in oh so much…
the interactions/responses in the video seem to uncover our systemic oblige\ness.. our systemic oppress\ion of ourselves on ourselves.. when his mom says she didn’t know about all the stuff he was doing at school.. then cried when she heard they wanted to give him a degree.
again – huge on the word – seems – ….it seems to be showing us all how we’ve become courts of the god/king credentialing ness… as we miss out on everyday life ness. on the person. we keep not seeing the person.. but recognizing that which is killing us..
40 min ish – july 22 2015 press conference
everyone deserves (and we all need) another chance (ad infinitum)
on the abolishment of solitary confinement – #KaliefBrowder via @pprestiaesq and #Browderfamily
Kalief’s mom dies of broken heart
The intensity is palpable right now #kaliefbrowder @spike
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/pvpesq/status/837135882486484993
A mother’s pain, and a family left broken, all over an allegedly stolen backpack. ‘TIME: The
#KaliefBrowder Story,’ premieres TONIGHT!‘TIME: The Kalief Browder Story’ Premieres TONIGHT at 10/9c‘TIME: The Kalief Browder Story,’ is a six-part documentary event that tells the story of Kalief Browder, his time at Rikers Island, and his tragic death.
Hi everyone, @marclamonthill here. Let’s talk about episode 1 of TIME: The #KaliefBrowder Story. Thoughts?I’ll be signing all my tweets MLH
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/spike/status/837150523962896384
Harvey Weinstein wants reform after Kalief Browder series https://t.co/jZONvjClkb
for us who knew him his death will always be tragicOriginal Tweet: https://twitter.com/pvpesq/status/841272484762681344
@andEpsKalief Browder, martyr. twitter.com/NYCMayor/statu…@NYCMayor Bill de BlasioNew York City will close the Rikers Island jail facility. It will take many years. It will take many tough decisions. But it will happen.
Mr. de Blasio said the jails could be closed in 10 years, providing the city could reduce the number of people who cycle through the city’s system to 5,000; low enough, that is, for every inmate to be taken off the 400-acre island and housed instead in jails elsewhere in the city.
it’s a nice gesture.. an honor.. it solidifies Kalief’s legacy as a hero for city/country.. more importantly it means a lot to his family.. it’s symbolic.. it’s appreciated
but it’s not the end
Two Years After Kalief Browder’s Suicide, His Brother Recounts Horrifying Ordeal at Rikers ow.ly/Ledm30cnitJ
rikers is just holding people who cannot afford to bail themselves out