In 2010, allegations over a stolen backpack changed one teen’s life forever. Now, Jay Z and The Weinstein Company are teaming up to bring that harrowing story to Spike TV.
The six-part documentary series, entitled “TIME: The Kalief Browder Story,” chronicles Kalief Browder’s horrific three-year ordeal at New York City jail complex, Rikers Island, where he was sent at just 16 years old without ever being convicted of a crime. Once he was finally released, 22-year-old Browder, who told HuffPost Live in 2013 that he was subjected to starvation and to nearly two years of solitary confinement while in prison, took his own life.
Jay Z told reporters at a press conference on Thursday that he met with Browder after he left prison to share “words of encouragement” and was “thrown off course” when he later heard about Browder’s death. The music mogul then brought the idea for a program about Browder’s experience to producer and studio executive Harvey Weinstein.
“Kalief’s [story] is a kind of story you can’t ignore,” Jay Z said.
The series will debut on Spike in January 2017 and will incorporate security footage from the prison and first-person accounts, as well as interviews with Browder’s friends and family.
Executive producer Jay Z, who is also creating a Richard Pryor biopic with The Weinstein Company, hopes the show will spark an important conversation about solitary confinement and the long-lasting impact it can have on the mental health of juvenile inmates.
“I think it’s very clear that solitary confinement, for a 16-year-old, is wrong to every single person in here, it’s humane. It’s inhumane,” the Brooklyn rapper said.
Since Browder’s untimely death, it seems change is already afoot. Earlier this year, President Barack Obama announced an executive order banning solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons. Jay Z credited Browder’s experience with helping to make that difference.
“[Browder’s] legacy… you can already see it touching so much change,” Jay Z said. “From the solitary confinement program that [his mother] Ms. Browder is on the board of to Obama’s ending the solitary confinement of minors…”
To learn more about Browder's story, check out his full 2013 interview with HuffPost Live in the video below.