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Merecedes on… Movies

The New York Police Department’s 48th Precinct, Rikers Island, and former Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson are responsible for the death and suicide of Kalief Browder.

Explaining in detail is “TIME: The Kalief Browder Story,” a six-part series intensely exploring how each of these three entities played a significant role in the wrongful imprisonment of Kalief Browder, who was 16 years old at the time. The series aired on Spike TV with rap mogul Jay-Z as executive producer.

On May 15, 2010, Browder was arrested after leaving a house party for allegedly stealing a bookbag. Without any evidence and a sketchy witness, the city of New York left Browder, a kid, in one of the most dangerous prisons in the world for three years. He spent the majority of that time in solitary confinement; approximately 800 days to be exact.

Cruel and unusual punishment is a complete understatement in this case. Browder was constantly being physically attacked by correctional officers and inmates for not getting with “the program.”

While most teenagers were preparing for life after high school, Browder was in prison for 17 months straight.

The biggest, most devastating lesson in this documentary is that all of this could have been prevented. A crooked, broken criminal justice system has swallowed our men whole with no intentions of rehabilitation or proper reintegration to be productive citizens.

The six hours to get through this documentary were touching, but tough. It was the real-life testimonies of Browder and his mother, Venida, that solidified this series. This mother-son duo spilled the beans and blew the whistle on everything that was corrupt.

Venida Browder, figuratively and physically, died of a broken heart last year in attempts to get justice for her son. The documentary shows how she dedicated her life to taking care of 34 children, including her biological, adopted and foster care children. It is her testimony that holds the most weight as she slowly watches her baby son deteriorate mentally.

It literally took Kalief Browder’s life to cause reform. But this past April, a plan was proposed and supported by the mayor of New York City, and the state’s Governor signed legislation to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18.

It’s undeniably important to never forget the name Kalief Browder, a victim of a system created to profit on the misfortune of African American men.

(Follow Pittsburgh’s own Merecedes J. Howze on Facebook… Merecedes J. Howze – and on Instagram, @moviescenequeen)

 

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