- The Washington Times - Monday, June 8, 2015

A 22-year-old New York man who spent nearly three years at the notorious Rikers Island jail without being convicted of a crime committed suicide Saturday after a long battle with depression.

Kalief Browder was arrested at 16 for stealing a backpack and then held at the jail for more than 1,000 days before his case was ultimately dismissed, The New Yorker reported.

Mr. Browder had tried to kill himself several times both inside and outside Rikers and had grown deeply depressed and paranoid, telling The New Yorker in a 2014 interview that he felt “robbed” of his happiness. On Saturday, he was found dead at a Bronx home.

“I think what caused the suicide was his incarceration and those hundreds and hundreds of nights in solitary confinement, where there were mice crawling up his sheets in that little cell,” Browder’s attorney, Paul V. Prestia, told the Los Angeles Times. “Being starved, and not being taken to the shower for two weeks at a time … those were direct contributing factors. … That was the pain and sadness that he had to deal with every day, and I think it was too much for him.”

Mr. Browder’s story helped prompt reforms at New York City’s courts and was held up as proof of the need to further overhaul the nation’s criminal justice system, The Hill reported.

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, who has mentioned Mr. Browder’s story during speeches about reforming the criminal justice system, took to Facebook Sunday to express his condolences.

“Kelley and I extend our most heartfelt sorrow and deepest condolences to the family of Kalief Browder. May his soul rest in peace,” he wrote.

On Saturday, Mr. Paul urged a crowd in New Hampshire to “think about Kalief Browder and think about how his friends must feel about American justice, how his parents must feel and about how his community feels,” The Hill reported.

“If we become the party that cares about the Sixth Amendment as much as we do the Second Amendment, we’re going to dominate,” he said.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide