Following the success of crime documentaries like Making A Murderer and The Jinx, comes yet another extremely powerful, socially poignant series. Time: The Kalief Browder Story is a six-part mini-documentary dealing with a tragic case of wrongful imprisonment and the profound impact it had on a Bronx teenager.
Arrested at 16 for allegedly stealing a backpack, unable to make bail, and held due to a prior offense, Browder spent three years at (the notoriously brutal) Rikers Island prison facility. Nearly two thirds of his time was spent in solitary confinement. He was violently beaten and abused by both inmates and guards. And the crazy part about all this is that the entirety of Bowder’s prison time was spent in “pre-trial detention”, meaning he never actually got a fair trial. His case was eventually dismissed, but the profound trauma he experience while incarcerated would remain with him until his final days. Only a few years after his release, he took his own life.
Browder’s tragic case has now garnered significant attention, from the U.S Supreme Court to Barack Obama himself. His story is emblematic of the United States’ broken criminal justice system. Directed by documentarian Jenner Furst and produced by Jay Z and the Weinstein Company, I can only hope this project continues to create conversation and bring on positive change. It’s stories like this that remind me why I practice criminal law.