Sixteen is the age when most are planning big parties, college prep tests and driving lessons. But, this wasn’t the case for Kalief Browder, whose case has turned his brother, Akeem, into a prison advocate. And, he wants Riker’s Island shut down for good.
Teen-hood is a time parents are trying to wrap their heads around the fact that their kids are getting close to becoming an adult. For Kalief Browder and his family, this wasn’t true.
For this incarcerated teen, it was about protecting himself on Riker’s Island for a crime he wasn’t convicted of… and one he continued to say he did not do.
The Story of 16-Year Old Incarcerated Teen Kalief Browder
Browder was accused of a stealing a bookbag which contents included:
- A camera
- $700 cash
- A credit card
- iPod Touch
He spent three years there, more than one thousand days waiting on a trial that never happened. Two of those years, the teen spent inside Riker’s solitary confinement.
Kalief was denied a speedy trial, which was his right. He was denied mental health assistance, for which he needed desparately. This became even more of a need after being brutalized by prison guards and other inmates, who were all adults.
While imprisoned, Kalief spent two years in solitary confinement, where he tore his bedsheets and attempted to hang himself. After being released, he attempted suicide several more times until he succeeded with an electrical cord in 2015, five years after being released.
What Changed Kalief Browder?
Kalief, a minor, was beaten and starved while inside, which lead to paranoia and a deep depression. He was angry, torn and tortured. In reality, Riker’s broke him and he never truly recovered from that.
Browder was a pioneer. After being released he told his story to prevent others from going through the same ordeal, prompting the then mayor to reform and end the excessive delays that happened with his case.
His story reached so many celebrities and people in powerful positions including:
- Rosie O’Donnell
- Jennifer Gonnerman
These, as well as many others, tried to help Kalief get his life back on track with computers for school and other opportunities. They wanted to provide him with things he may have missed out on while incarcerated at Riker’s Island.
Akeem Browder Fights to Bring Riker’s Island Down for Good
Eight years later, his older brother Akeem Browder is fighting to shut Riker’s down, but also to bail out teenagers and women from NYC jails so they will not have to endure the same treatment as his brother.
The Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Foundation had plans starting the first of October to do a mass bailout, but the Mayor, de Blasio, was not impressed. Stating that once bail is set, anyone can pay it, but that certain people should not be eligible for this program.
Bail has always been and will continue to be a thing of wealth. The wealthy, no matter what they are accused of usually never see a day of jail before trial, while those who cannot afford it spend years waiting inside.
This month, the foundation plans on paying bails for over 200 detainees on Rikers, focusing on those who are between 16-18 and women. Although the city plans on moving the minors to a juvenile facility in the Bronx, how this helps, no clue.
Why is this a problem? Bail is still an issue and continues to be one if you are not wealthy.
Standing up is not enough, which is why programs such as RFK Human Right’s Foundation and others of its kind are using the resources to change this.
It’s time to stand up, vote and help change the way the school to prison pipeline continues.