Never fully recovering from the trauma he suffered during solitary confinement, Kalief Browder hung himself this past Saturday

In 2010, at the age of 16 Kalief Browder was accused of stealing a backpack and spent three years in Rikers Island without a trial or conviction. Two of those three years Browder spent in solitary confinement. Browder attempted suicide several times during solitary confinement as well as six months after his release in November 2013. Sufficed to say the two years Browder spent in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day negatively impacted his psyche, not to mention the alleged abuse from guards in Rikers Island. After security footage from Riker’s (available below) revealed that Browder was in fact beaten by guards as well as inmates, this prompted Mayor De Blasio to reform the city’s court system. 

It seemed as if Browder was assimilating back into society fairly well getting his high school equivalency diploma and beginning classes at Bronx Community College, but since his release he’d visited the psych ward at St.Barnabas twice as well as Harlem Hospital’s psych ward. Browder continued to suffer from paranoia, afraid of being attacked on the subway and that his tv was watching him.

On Saturday, June 6th, Browder wrapped a cord connected to an air conditioner around his neck, pushed the ac unit out of his second-floor window and hung himself. Yesterday de Blasio said, ““There is no reason he should have gone through this ordeal…and his tragic death is a reminder that we must continue to work each day to provide the mental health services so many New Yorkers need.” As of last December, de Blasio’s administration established that 16 and 17-year-olds can no longer be placed in solitary confinement due to the negative repercussions on their mental stability and yesterday he added “Kalief’s story helped inspire our efforts,” in regards to Rikers. Hopefully these reformations will ensure that no one else will suffer the way the innocent Kalief Browder did.


-Nishat Baig