Prison reform advocates, New York City lawmakers and Kalief Browder’s family gathered on Thursday to rename a Bronx street corner in honor of the young man whose suicide accelerated the struggle to close New York’s Rikers Island jail complex, the New York Daily News reports.
On the day that would have marked Browder’s 24th birthday, the corner of E. 181st St. and Prospect Ave. was named “Kalief Browder Way.”
Browder was 16 years old when he was jailed at Rikers in 2010 for allegedly robbing a teen of his backpack. His family couldn’t afford his $3,000 bail. Consequently, he spent three years at the notorious jail, where he endured beatings from prison guards and inmates, as well as 400 days in solitary confinement.
Charges against Browder, who always maintained his innocence, were dropped. Authorities released him from jail, but he was a physically and psychologically damaged young man. Browder hanged himself at age 22.
The outcry from Browder’s case added a loud voice to the chorus demanding the closure of Rikers. In March, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the prison complex would close, over a 10-year period, USA Today reported.