Kalief Browder: Man who spent 1,000 days in jail as teenager over crime for which he was never convicted kills himself in New York

As an inmate at Rikers, he spent more than a year in solitary confinement

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A young man who spent three years as a teenager at the notorious Rikers Island jail, much of it in solitary confinement and without being convicted of an offence, has killed himself.

Kalief Browder, 21, who spent more than a thousand days at the jail after being accused of stealing a backpack, used an air-conditioning cable to hang himself at the family home in the Bronx home, according to the New Yorker magazine.

The case of the young man, who remained incarcerated because his family could not afford to pay $10,000 bail for him,  drew the attention and support of everyone from the rapper Jay Z and talk-show host Rosie O’Donnell.

 

After a lengthy profile on the case, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio moved to end the use of solitary confinement for 16- and 17-year-old inmates.

Mr Browder had apparently tried to take his life on several previous occasions

“Ma, I can’t take it anymore,” Mr Browder apparently told his mother the night before he took his life.

“This case is bigger than Michael Brown,” Mr Browder’s lawyer, Paul Prestia, told the magazine.

“When you go over the three years that he spent (in jail) and all the horrific details he endured, it’s unbelievable that this could happen to a teenager in New York City. He didn’t get tortured in some prison camp in another country. It was right here!”

In May 2010, police arrested Mr Browder on in the Bronx after a teen accused him of robbing him of his backpack. Because his family could not raise the bail money, Browder remained locked up in Rikers for 33 month until he was offered a plea deal, which he declined.

He was released from Rikers in May 2013 when charges were dropped.

In April, Rikers security footage from September 2012 surfaced showing a correction officer slamming Mr Browder to a cellblock floor and pummelling him. Other footage from 2010, showed Mr Browder being beaten by 10 teen inmates in a wild brawl, the New York Daily News reported.

 

The US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is on 1800 273 8255.

In the UK the Samaritans provides a support service for those who need to talk to someone. It can be contacted through Samaritans.org or on 08457 90 90 90, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year

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