Jay Z TV doc de­cries ju­ve­nile soli­tary stays

Baltimore Sun - - ENTERTAINMENT - — As­so­ci­ated Press

Rap su­per­star Jay Z is help­ing shine a light on prison re­form by co-pro­duc­ing a TV doc­u­men­tary about a young man who spent three years be­hind bars with­out trial for al­legedly steal­ing a back­pack.

The rap­per teamed up with Har­vey We­in­stein to pro­duce the six-part “Time: The Kalief Brow­der Story,” which airs in Jan­uary on Spike TV. It uses first-per­son ac­counts, prison footage and cin­e­matic re-cre­ations to ex­plore what Jay Z called a sys­tem that’s “bro­ken.”

Brow­der was 16 when he was ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of steal­ing a back­pack, and he was sent to the Rik­ers Is­land fa­cil­ity in New York for three years. Brow­der was kept in soli­tary con­fine­ment for 800 days and, ac­cord­ing to his lawyer, beaten by in­mates and guards. He was never tried and was re­leased in 2013. He killed him­self last year at age 22.

Jay Z, at­tend­ing a press con­fer­ence Thurs­day in New York with Brow­der’s mother, the film­mak­ers and We­in­stein, said he hoped Brow­der’s story “in­spires oth­ers and saves other lives.”

“I think it’s very clear that soli­tary con­fine­ment for a 16-year-old is wrong to ev­ery sin­gle per­son in here,” he said. “It’s in­hu­mane.”

In an op-ed writ­ten for The Wash­ing­ton Post, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama cited Brow­der’s “heart­break­ing” case to ar­gue for a ban on the use of soli­tary con­fine­ment for ju­ve­nile and low-level offenders in fed­eral prisons.

LARRY BUSACCA/GETTY

Rap­per Jay Z is co-pro­duc­ing “Time: The Kalief Brow­der Story,” about a teen held in soli­tary for 800 days.

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