*One day after Jay Z announced his new first look deal with The Weinstein Company to produce film and TV projects, the first fruit from the pact has been revealed. It’s based on a true story about one of the most heartbreaking cases to come out of America’s broken criminal justice system.
Jay Z and The Weinstein Company are teaming with Spike TV for a television event series about Kalief Browder, the African American who was falsely arrested at 16 on charges of robbery and imprisoned without conviction for three years at New York’s Riker’s Island.
In May 2010, while walking to his home in the Bronx, Browder was arrested and charged with second degree robbery. He was on probation for a previous arrest and was unable to make $3,500 bail as a result. Maintaining his innocence, he refused to take a plea bargain that would have released him.
After numerous postponements of his case and 31 hearings, his charges were eventually dismissed and Browder was released in June 2013 – three years after his arrest. For two of those years, Browder was held in solitary confinement or administrative segregation, physically abused by guards and beaten up by other inmates.
His story made national headlines after it was told in detail in a New Yorker article in October 2014. The national exposure of his case became the impetus for proposed reforms in the New York City criminal justice system.
In June 2015, however, Browder committed suicide by hanging himself. The conditions of his detention were widely seen as having caused his mental condition as well as six prior attempts at suicide while he was incarcerated.
Jay Z will appear at a press conference officially announcing the series on October 6 in New York. Also due to appear are Harvey Weinstein, Kalief’s mom Venida Browder, filmmakers Jenner Furst and Mike Gasparro, and Spike TV President Kevin Kay.
Below, Browder’s story on Democracy Now, and his interview on HuffPost Live with Marc Lamont Hill: