Jay Z’s Examination of How the Justice System Fails People of Color Is a Must Watch (Video)
Far too often, a person’s story of pain and struggle only receives its due attention when it’s too late. It’s true for Kalief Browder, who at 16 was arrested for a crime he didn’t commit. After spending three years in prison without ever being convicted (let alone awarded his right to a speedy trial), he was eventually released in 2013. But the damage had been done. Spending two years in solitary confinement and the frequent beatings and harassment he suffered at the hands of other inmates and administrative personnel followed him as he attempted to start his life over. On June 6, 2015, the 22-year-old hung himself.
Browder’s suicide was preventable, but sadly his purported constitutional rights and basic legal supports were simply ignored by the New York City prison system, where he was incarcerated. Equally tragic is the fact that he is not the only person to be disposed of by America’s failed criminal-justice system. As such, his story is an opportunity for our society to take a closer look at how inmates (particularly those of color) are denied their fundamental rights as American citizens, and human beings.
Yesterday (December 15), a trailer for a six-part documentary series examining Browder’s case was released. The Jay Z-produced TIME: The Kalief Browder Story will air on Spike TV beginning March 1, 2017, and will be comprised of archival footage, interviews with his family and friends, as well as dramatic reenactments. As reported by Shadow and Act, Jigga serves as an executive producer of the program and in a statement said “Kalief Browder is a modern-day prophet; his story a failure of the judicial process. A young man, and I emphasize young man, who lost his life because of a broken system. His tragedy has brought atrocities to light and now we must confront the issues and events that occurred so other young men can have a chance at justice.”
Browder’s story is resonant. Not just for its being a stark reminder of why our prisons operate like modern-day slavery, but because of its being a reminder of the importance of humanity. Browder’s own mother, Venida, suffered a fatal heart attack in October. Many have argued that she died of a broken heart.