Over Three Years In Rikers for Allegedly Stealing a Backpack – Spike Tells the Tragic Story of Kalief Browder
And that’s exactly why you need to watch it.
In 2010, Kalief Browder was stopped in the Bronx on his way home from a party. Police told the 16-year-old and his friend that they were suspects in a robbery. A man claimed they had stolen his backpack. Browder pleaded his innocence, and asked officers to search him. They found nothing.
The boys were cuffed and brought to the precinct, where they were fingerprinted and locked in a holding cell. According to Jennifer Gonnerman’s 2014 exposé for the New Yorker, Browder expected to be released shortly.
Instead, he spent the next three and a half years incarcerated on Rikers Island.
In this time, Browder experienced such gruesome conditions he attempted to take his own life, twice. He was attacked by guards and fellow inmates, robbed, and thrown in solitary confinement. When offered a plea bargain that would let him leave Rikers if he admitted guilt, the teen maintained his innocence and waited for his day in trial.
That day never came. Instead, the case fizzled out. The man accusing Browder of stealing his backpack—a backpack which never turned up as evidence—returned to his home country.
Without evidence or a witness to testify against Browder, the prosecutors gave up. There was no trial. There was no verdict. Browder was summarily released. After three and a half years, Browder finally returned to his Bronx neighborhood. It didn’t feel like home anymore.