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Kalief Browder’s Family Is Suing New York City for $20 Million

The New York Daily News reports the family of Kalief Browder will serve New York City with a $20 million wrongful death lawsuit. Browder’s case was one of the driving forces behind the jail reform movement in New York City, prompting Mayor Bill de Blasio to order changes to the city’s solitary confinement policy for juvenile inmates.

The family is accusing the city of subjecting Browder to “systemic and agonizing physical and mental abuse … tantamount to torture” and that his experience on the island “caused him to become suicidal.”

Browder spent three years as a pre-trial inmate on Rikers Island after he was accused of stealing a backpack when he was 16. He spent 800 of those days in solitary confinement. Like so many other inmates, Browder was the victim of immense brutality at the hands of inmates and corrections officers alike.

Browder was released in May 2013 and the charges against him were dropped soon after, but he was irreparably scarred by his experience on the island. He grappled with PTSD and depression, attempting suicide a total of four times both on and off the island. He enrolled in school and was said to be writing a paper on solitary confinement, but killed himself at his home this summer after cops picked him up and held him overnight on a resisting arrest charge.

Brian Nam-Sonenstein

Brian Nam-Sonenstein

Publishing Editor at Shadowproof and columnist at Prison Protest.