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They say she died of “a broken heart.”

Venida Browder, the 63-year-old mother of the late Kalief Browder, died Friday at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx of complications from a heart attack, according to the New York Daily News.

Kalief Browder was the 22-year-old Bronx man who committed suicide after spending three horrific years on Rikers Island, New York City’s largest jail, because he was unable to raise nearly $3,000 in bail money for allegedly stealing a backpack. While there, Browder experienced documented torture and abuse from guards and inmates alike, leading, according to family lawyer Paul Prestia, to mental health issues.

In June 2015 after his release, Browder hanged himself with an air conditioning cord, sparking sustained outrage at Rikers Island’s often violent, broken culture and calling for specific reforms including the abolishment of solitary confinement for juveniles and changes to the bail system in New York.

The night before his suicide, Browder reportedly told his mother, “Ma, I can’t take it anymore.”

“She was a woman of incredible grace and compassion who tirelessly fought for justice for her son Kalief and who championed the civil rights of others in our city,” Prestia told the News on Sunday. “But the stress from this crusade coupled with the strain of the pending lawsuits against the city and the pain from the death were too much to for her to bear. In my opinion she literally died of a broken heart.”

Because of Kalief’s high profile case and the work of criminal justice reform advocates, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio eventually discontinued solitary confinement for 16- and 17-year-old inmates. He also launched “Bail Lab, a think tank of sorts to come up with solutions to New York’s over reliance on monetary bail.

Less than two weeks ago, rapper Jay Z confirmed that he would be making a six-part documentary on Kalief Browder’s life for Spike TV.

SOURCE: New York Daily News | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Twitter


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