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Culture > News

A Life Worth More Than Millions: Kalief Browder

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Hampton U chapter.

The criminal justice system has failed African Americans tremendously and tirelessly for as long as history can be traced. We’ve heard the names and we’ve heard the stories, yet every inevitable failure America’s justice system spews up is still disappointing, to say the least. This one is no different.

As of January 24, 2019, New York City has agreed to a $3.3 million settlement in response to a lawsuit filed by the family of Kalief Browder. The family sued the city for wrongful death, as Browder committed suicide after spending two years in solitary confinement at Rikers’ Island.

Initially, 16-year-old Browder was jailed due to an accusation of stealing a backpack containing a credit card, iPod, camera, and $700. He spent three years awaiting a trial that would, ultimately, never happen, as the prosecutor did not have any legit evidence against him. Two of those years were spent in solitary confinement.

Extensive solitary confinement would drive anyone to insanity; but on top of that, Browder was abused throughout the duration of his jail time. From violent correction officers to unruly gang fights, Rikers’ Island was a living hell – especially for an inmate like Browder who was never actually proven guilty. Simply put, Browder suffered physical, mental, and emotional trauma for no reason. Unfortunately, the trauma was not something he could ever recover from. Browder committed suicide on June 6, 2015 after several failed attempts. It is argued that the suicide was a result of his traumatic experiences at Rikers’ Island. The figurative and literal scars Browder walked away from Rikers’ with robbed him of a chance at finding himself again.

While $3.3 million is a significant load of money, this isn’t exactly the most ideal way to get it. A human life can’t be paid off or genuinely “settled,” no matter the amount of digits behind the dollar sign. That money can be used for plenty of things, but nothing can buy back Kalief Browder’s life, sanity, or happiness.

Ayanna Maxwell

Hampton U '20

Ayanna Maxwell is a graduating senior, strategic communications major at Hampton University. Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Ayanna chose to attend Hampton because she admired the HBCU experience. A proud Virgo, she shares a birthday with her favorite singer, Beyonce (September 4th). Ayanna is also a Spring 2018 initiate into the Gamma Theta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
creator.writer.blogger.journalist.sushi enthusiast. Victoria has been obsessed with writing since the days of journals and sneaking to read books under the covers. Her passion shows through each word that she carefully places into sentences, providing an experience that is nothing short of poetic and powerful. Read more of her work on her blog, quintessentiallyspeakingblog.wordpress.com