It has been nearly four years since Kalief Browder died and nine years since he was wrongfully jailed at Rikers Island. Now, New York City has finally agreed to pay $3.3 million to the estate of Browder, the New York Times reported.
“Kalief Browder’s story helped inspire numerous reforms to the justice system to prevent this tragedy from ever happening again, including an end to punitive segregation for young people on Rikers Island,” the Law Department said in a statement. “We hope that this settlement and our continuing reforms help bring some measure of closure to the Browder family.”
Browder was 16 years old when he was jailed at Rikers Island in 2010 after being accused of robbing a teen of his backpack. His family couldn’t afford bail and 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 eventually dropped. Authorities released him from jail, but he was a physically and psychologically damaged young man. On June 6, 2015, Browder hanged himself with an air conditioning cord at his home. He was only 22.
“The Justice Department has completed its review, and I am adopting its recommendations to reform the federal prison system,” Obama wrote. “These include banning solitary confinement for juveniles and as a response to low-level infractions, expanding treatment for the mentally ill and increasing the amount of time inmates in solitary can spend outside of their cells. These steps will affect some 10,000 federal prisoners held in solitary confinement — and hopefully serve as a model for state and local corrections systems. And I will direct all relevant federal agencies to review these principles and report back to me with a plan to address their use of solitary confinement.”
On October 14, 2016, Kalief’s mother, Venida Browder, died at 63 years old after complications from a heart attack — but many said she died from a broken heart.
On May 25, 2017, which would have been Kalief’s 24th birthday, New York City renamed a Bronx street corner in honor of him. The corner of E. 181st St. and Prospect Ave. in the South Bronx is now called “Kalief Browder Way.”