Being Poor In America Is A Crime Particularly for Many Black People. This is specifically true for young black men in inner-city areas; so many of whom find themselves profiled, arrested and imprisoned. Because they are poor, most often they have to depend on inexperienced and unprepared public defenders. Kalief Browder was such a young man. He committed suicide on June 6, 2015. In fact, he was murdered years earlier by the American Criminal Justice System as practiced in our courts, and applied at Rikers Island and in other prisons across America.
What happened to Kalief Browder is an abomination. He was falsely imprisoned without charge for three years; he was repeatedly abused by other inmates and by prison guards.
After his release from prison he attended Bronx Community College. There he wrote a research paper about Solitary Confinement; he had an excellent GPA of 3.55. However, he was gravely affected by the abuse he suffered in prison and particularly in Solitary Confinement. After being released from Rikers, he struggled to adjust to the outside world. He suffered deep bouts of depression, became increasingly paranoid, spent time in a psychiatric hospital, and made multiple attempts to end his own life. “Ma, I can’t take it anymore,” Browder reportedly told his mother shortly before his death. According to his family, it was the demons Browder developed while in solitary confinement that would eventually lead to his suicide.” http://goo.gl/lKvcfs
Below are information about Kalief’s tragic situation from various sources. If some seem repetitive it’s intentional.
So much of what goes on in our Judiciary system are vile and repulsive; yet, as a country, we claim to be number one in so many ways. How can our Dept of Corrections (DOC) management system tolerate the vileness that goes on at Rikers Island (and in many other prisons)? Because that vileness is an integral part of our system of injustice, racism, and bigotry. The guard who was seen on video abusing Kalief is still working at the prison months later. How is that possible? Read on.
- Maybe because like so many other poor, uneducated, and mentally ill black men in our prisons, Kalief Browder was not perceived to be a human being.
- It does not matter the color of his abusers.
- Our system of incarceration dehumanizes inmates; those who are black, poor and mentally ill are fodder for many of the egomaniacs who run the system.
- Our criminal justice system is one of the worst features of our society.
- Maybe one of the reasons so many conservative politicians wanted to push Eric Holder out of office before his second term was up is exactly because he was starting to investigate the racism and corruption that permeates the criminal justice system, starting with many of the police depts, district attorney offices and state penal system.
Every decent American should be outraged; we should all be writing to elected officials, Corrections authorities and to the states’ attorney general.
- But who has time to even read the reports in the NY Times or the New Yorker, much less care about ‘criminals?’ This is the comment I often hear.
- Like so many other young black men falsely accused and imprisoned, Kalief did not commit the crime of which he was accused and for which he was imprisoned for three years. He spent 23 months in solitary confinement!
- Kalief was never officially charged; no one swore out a warrant against him.
Kalief Browder Part 1 (Posted in the GNH Community Ning on June 13, 2015) A Poor Black Man, 22-Y-O Kalief Browder, Died June 6, 2015
Young, Black, Poor, Mentally Ill, Exploited, Wrongfully Accused and Preyed Upon at Rikers Island for 3 Years Without A Trial, Committed Suicide on June 6, 2015. He sought and found relief in death. Since the age of 16, when he was accused and locked up, Kalief’s life was HELL!
America has many sects; there are: the Koch Brothers, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, and the Hollywood Jet-set; the KKK, Rand Paul, John Boehner, Clarence Thomas, and the evil-perpetuating guards at Rikers Island; there are the prosecutors who build their careers on the persecution of poor, uneducated immigrants and ill-informed, desperate and ill-prepared Americans of every stripe.
- Kalief Browder represents a significant part of America. That part of America most of us don’t want to know anything about.
- That part of America to which some of our aspiring leaders occasionally refer as proof that they are in-touch with “the little people.” It’s a part of America that makes most of us uncomfortable.
- Since we believe that we cannot do anything about it, it’s best to ignore it. We often underestimate the power of letters from voters, from us the politicians’ constituents.
- America is only as good as the worst of us, and as bad as the best of us.
Guards at Rikers Island –and at every prison in America where inmates are exploited and abused — keep doing what they do because it is condoned by the prison administration.
- Prisoners are things to be used or misused as guards and administrators please; there is no accountability. Why is that? Prisoners are America’s dump, and prisons are the dumping ground. This is why so many young black men are railroaded into prisons. Every decent American should be outraged!
- Thugs pick on the weak and vulnerable; those in power use inmates as rewards to the guards/thugs from whom they want something.
- If administrators lost their jobs based on what goes on in their facilities, the crimes and abuse would be reduced by 90 percent within 90 days
“Kalief Browder was sent to Rikers Island when he was 16 years old, accused of stealing a backpack. Though he never stood trial or was found guilty of any crime, he spent three years at the New York City jail complex, nearly two of them in solitary confinement.” At Rikers Kalief was repeatedly brutalized by guards and other inmates. Some beatings were seen on videos. He was locked up for 3 years because his parents “reportedly” did not have the money to pay bail for him!
What kind of a system do we have where the most vulnerable (the poor and the mentally ill) can be treated so inhumanely and after the fact have politicians bemoan their abuse and tragic deaths? http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/09/nyregion/kalief-browder-held-at-rikers-island-for-3-years-without-trial-commits-suicide.html
Many journalists wrote about Kalief Browder after his suicide; Jennifer Gonnerman, The New Yorker, wrote about Kalief Browder before his suicide. She published the video of him being abused. He was released after being imprisoned for three years, but he got no real help to deal with his pain and the damage done to him in prison. See Ms. Gonnerman’s article below.
April 23, 2015 Exclusive Video: Violence Inside Rikers – By Jennifer Gonnerman “In May, 2010, Kalief Browder, a sixteen-year-old high-school sophomore, was arrested in the Bronx for allegedly stealing a backpack. He insisted that he was innocent, but he was taken to Rikers Island, New York City’s four-hundred-acre jail complex. Browder spent the next three years at Rikers, awaiting trial while his case was repeatedly delayed by the courts. In May, 2013, the case against him was dismissed. (Last fall, I wrote about Browder for the magazine.) This week, The New Yorker obtained two surveillance-camera video clips that depict the dual horrors of Browder’s years in jail: abuse by a guard and by fellow-inmates.” September 23, 2012: Inside the Bing: Watch the gross abuse. http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/exclusive-video-violence-inside-rikers
Rikers Island and the Death of Kalief Browder – The NY Times editorial wrote:
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD, JUNE 9, 2015
“The Justice Department and the City of New York are expected to reach an agreement this month on a reform plan that is intended to end the barbaric abuses that have long dominated the Rikers Island jail complex.
But this agreement will come too late to save Kalief Browder, who was held at the jail for three years without trial, starting in 2010, when he was 16. The psychological trauma caused by spending about two of those years in solitary confinement at Rikers remained long after his release. On Saturday, Mr. Browder committed suicide at his family’s home in the Bronx. He was 22.
Mr. Browder was accused of stealing a backpack, a charge he strongly denied. Partly because his family was unable to make bail, he remained at Rikers all that time, only to have the case dismissed.
The beatings he suffered at the jail were captured on video that became public in April. In one incident, Mr. Browder is brutally assaulted by a guard; in another, he is attacked and beaten by a gang of inmates. He tried to kill himself several times. According to a lawsuit filed against the city on his behalf, his condition was made immeasurably worse by guards who sometimes denied him meals, medical care and bathing privileges — and fabricated disciplinary infractions to extend his stay in isolation.
Last year, the city eliminated solitary confinement for adolescents at Rikers. The court system has put in place a new plan to shorten court delays and to prevent people from being held for lengthy periods without trial.
These are important changes. But a serious, legally enforceable reform plan will be needed to remake what a damning Justice Department report issued last August described as a “deep-seated culture of violence” at the jail. The report called for a thorough overhaul of Correction Department operations and also recommended that adolescents be removed from Rikers and placed in a facility elsewhere. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature could alleviate a great deal of suffering — and bring New York into the 21st century — by passing a bill that would keep children under the age of 18 out of adult prisons.
The Justice Department warned in August that the city would find itself in court if reforms were not quickly carried out. Federal prosecutors made good on that threat a few months later when they joined a pending class-action lawsuit, Nunez v. City of New York, which charges the Department of Correction with abetting violence by failing to discipline officers who participated in abuse.
By joining a lawsuit that was already underway, federal prosecutors put themselves in a better position to get a court-monitored agreement that would produce enforceable, verifiable reforms. Mr. Browder’s death makes it all the more imperative that the reforms have teeth.”
Of course, Kalief is gone; nothing will bring him back, or even prevent the same from happening to another young man elsewhere in the system. We need systemic change at the core. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/10/opinion/rikers-island-and-the-death-of-kalief-browder.html
Injustice Anywhere: http://www.injusticeanywhereforum.com/viewtopic.php?
Mr Louis’ piece is quite poignant and echoes the sentiments of this writer. We strongly encourage you to read it. We also linked it to OneWorld’s Face book page. As a society too many of us believe that ALL prisoners are criminals getting their just desserts. Unless we have been directly involved with the system, we tend not to pay close attention. That it exactly what the system and its callous, Kafkaesque administrators depend on; this is why they operate with total abandon. Louis says: As a 16-year-old, Kalief fell victim to the outright brutality of officers on Rikers Island,
OneWorld has written a second blog about inmate abuse at Rikers Island. It’s about the physical abuse and death of Ronald “Knowledge” Spear. The guards involved — with the aid of other guards and administrators tried to cover up the murder of Mr. Spear. Read our next blog titled: Ronald Spear – Beaten to Death At Rikers – Just Another? It is linked here: http://oneworldpi.org/blog/archives/3056
Closing Commentary: America’s criminal injustice system is corrupt, racist, bigoted, and disproportionately affects the poor, the mentally ill, and the undereducated; it affects poor innercity black men most. The system needs courageous attorney generals all across Amercia, along with ethical, committed politicians, willing to clean it up. Congress NEEDS to lead the way. Eric Holder is a great loss to America’s political and justice systems. It’s understandable that he needed a rest. We which Attorney General, Loretta Lynch well.
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