Democracy Now! continues coverage of Rikers Island. In October, the Browder family held a memorial service for Venida Browder, who died “of a broken heart” 16 months after her own son, Kalief, hanged himself in his Bronx home after spending nearly three years at New York’s Rikers Island jail.
In 2010, when Kalief was just 16, he was sent to Rikers Island, without trial, on suspicion of stealing a backpack. He always maintained his innocence and demanded a trial. He spent the next nearly three years at Rikers, even though he was never tried or convicted. For nearly 800 days of that time, he was held 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. He also told Huffington Post Live that he was repeatedly denied food by guards while he was in solitary confinement. These experiences traumatized him, and ultimately, after his release, Kalief Browder took his own life on June 6, 2015, when he was 22 years old. For more, Amy and Juan spoke with Akeem Browder, Kalief’s older brother. He is the founder of the Campaign to Shut Down Rikers.
Democracy Now! is a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program hosted by journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez.