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