Kalief Browder’s family settles with New York City for $3.3 million

The settlement arrives almost four years after his death.

  /  01.25.2019

Kalief Browder’s family has reportedly reached a settlement with New York City.

As confirmed by the Browder family’s attorney, Sanford A. Rubenstein, on Thursday (Jan. 24), the city has agreed to pay $3.3 million as a result of the malicious prosecution and wrongful death suit that was filed after Browder died by suicide in 2015. He was only 22 years old at the time of his death.

For those unfamiliar, Browder was arrested after being accused of stealing a backpack containing valuables. He was sent to Rikers Island to await the case being sent to trial because his family couldn’t afford to pay his $3,000 bail. He spent nearly two of his three years in solitary confinement before being released in 2013 after the charges against him were dropped. Two years later, he hanged himself in his mother’s home, leading many to cite the conditions of Rikers and the mental anguish he suffered as a result both playing a factor.

“Kalief Browder’s story helped inspire numerous reforms to the justice system to prevent this tragedy from ever happening again, including an end to punitive segregation for young people on Rikers Island,” the New York City Law Department said in a statement. “We hope that this settlement and our continuing reforms help bring some measure of closure to the Browder family.”

Scott Rynecki, one of the family’s attorneys, shared in a statement with NPR that they are satisfied with the settlement.

“The family is pleased that they can bring closure to this part of the matter, but hopes that the national recognition that the case gave to the need of prison reform and dealing with younger individuals continues,” Rynecki said.

The grave injustice carried against Browder and how the system failed him continues to spark a national dialogue about the need for criminal justice reform.

In 2017, JAY-Z helped released the docuseries, Time: The Kalief Browder Story, expanding on Browder’s story and how it helped lead to change in the prison system, including the New York City Council voting to end solitary confinement for inmates under the age of 21 in 2015. However, Browder’s story is one of many that serves as a reminder the battle must wage on. This week, JAY-Z and Meek Mill announced a new coalition to continue the fight for a fairer system, kicking off the new organization with a collective pledge of $50 million.



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