Powerful Kalief Browder Documentary Earns Peabody Nomination for Sparking Conversation and Social Change

When Time: The Kalief Browder Story debuted last March on Viacom’s Spike (now Paramount Network in the U.S.), it recounted the youth’s tragic incarceration and helped mobilize the movement to shut down New York City’s notorious Rikers Island prison. Now, the Peabody Awards, which salute compelling and crucial forms of digital storytelling, have nominated the six-part miniseries in its Documentary category.

Browder was 22 when he committed suicide after spending over three torturous years incarcerated on Rikers Island for allegedly stealing a backpack at age 16. His trial was repeatedly delayed until charges were dropped. He left prison with crippling PTSD—which ultimately led to his death by suicide.

His story, chronicled in the documentary, led to the formation of the Kalief Browder Foundation, which is determined to “dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline prevalent in disenfranchised communities.

Shortly after the finale, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans to close Rikers Island and end New York’s “mass incarceration era.” Browder’s story—and the surrounding media attention sparked by the documentary—may have served as a catalyst for de Blasio’s decision.

MTV star Charlamagne Tha God shared his thoughts on the matter at an event for Viacom employees last year: “I can’t attribute the whole documentary to why Rikers is closing, but it brought a lot of attention to its vile conditions.”

NEW YORK CITY HALL, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2016/02/23: Prisoner Rights Advocacy and Activist Groups held a press conference at New York City Hall to formerly ask Mayor de Blasio, Governor Cuomo and Department of Correction Commissioner Ponte to immediately shut down Rikers Island. (Photo by Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

In February 2017, Prisoner Rights Advocacy and Activist Groups held a press conference at New York City Hall to ask Mayor de Blasio, Governor Cuomo and Department of Correction Commissioner Ponte to immediately shut down Rikers Island. (Photo by Erik McGregor / Getty Images)

Browder is not here to share his story. But through this documentary, his voice lives on.

“These stories reflect important social issues and exemplify the power of diverse voices and platforms in media today,” Jeffrey P. Jones, executive director of Peabody said of the 60 nominees, which the organization culled from nearly 1,200 entries.

Winners for the Documentary category will be announced on April 19. All Peabody Award nominees will be honored May 19 at a ceremony in New York.


Time: The Kalief Browder Story credits:

  • Executive Producers: Jenner Furst, Julia Willoughby Nason, Michael Gasparro, Nick Sandow, Chachi Senior, Sharon Levy, Shawn “Jay -Z” Carter
  • Director: Jenner Furst
  • Writers: Jenner Furst, Mark Konkol, Rose Schlossberg
  • Directors of Photography: James Adolphis, Dan Levin, Jake Cohen
  • Original Music Composers: Danielle Furst, Khari Mateen

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