Kalief Browder was just 22 years old when he committed suicide after enduring three years of mental, physical and psychological abuse at Rikers Island prison in New York City NY Times. Browder was accused of stealing a backpack and was placed in Rikers when he was just 16 years old. He never stood trial nor was found guilty of a crime, yet he remained in prison for three years.
Browder maintained his innocence, rejecting several plea deals from prosecutors, including one in particular that would have demanded his immediate release.
After several court delays and losing contact with their only witness, prosecutors ultimately decided to drop the charges. Browder was released in 2013, but his life after Rikers was very hard for him and his mental health diminished. He was hospitalized last December at a psychiatric ward at Harlem Hospital Center.
In an interview Browder did with The New Yorker in 2014, he described the abuse he experienced from the corrections officers, fellow inmates and the damaging effects solitary confinement had on him. Security videos showed Browder being pushed to the ground by an officer and being savagely beaten by inmates. He told the reporter he attempted suicide several times while in prison.
“Before I went to jail, I didn’t know about a lot of stuff, and, now that I’m aware, I’m paranoid,” Browder said. “I feel like I was robbed of my happiness.”
All the mental anguish and psychical cruelty Browder endured over the years while being held at Rikers, awaiting his time in court, proved to be truly detrimental to Browder. On Saturday, June 6th, Kalief Browder took his life and hanged himself in his parents’ home in the Bronx.