Announced this morning, the rapper and entrepreneur is creating a documentary series titled Time: The Kalief Browder Story. The series will focus on the life of Kalief Browder, the Bronx high school student who killed himself in 2015, after being held for three years on Rikers Island for allegedly stealing a backpack.
Browder was arrested in 2010 for second degree robbery and imprisoned for three years with no conviction – two of which he spent in solitary confinement, at the age of 16. During his imprisonment Browder maintained his innocence and refused a plea deal, with his family unable to afford his $3,000 bail.
Eventually, he was released in 2013 after his case was dismissed due to multiple trial postponements, and his accuser left the country. In January 2015, President Barack Obama wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post urging there be an end to what he called an “overuse” of solitary confinement as prison punishment, which was influenced by the conditions Browder endured while at Rikers. Six months later, Browder hung himself.
“Kalief Browder is a modern-day prophet; his story a failure of the judicial process,” Jay Z said during a press conference. “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.”
Time: The Kalief Browder Story is set to air as a six part series beginning in January on Spike TV. The episodes will feature dramatic reenactments of the young man’s life, archival footage, as well as interviews with family and friends.
The announcement comes a month after Jay Z’s collaborative video with The New York Times, where he critiqued America’s war on drugs and ultimately called it an “epic fail.”