This Day in History

May 15, 2010: Kalief Browder Arrested, Held for Three Years with No Trial

Time Periods: 2001 - Present
Themes: Criminal Justice & Incarceration, Racism & Racial Identity

Kalief Browder was arrested at the age of 16 for allegedly stealing a backpack weeks before in the Bronx.

Despite no evidence, never being convicted of a crime, nor a trial, Browder was held at Rikers Island for almost three years. For most of that time, he was held in solitary confinement. He was beaten and starved.

He maintained his innocence, requested a trial, but was only offered plea deals while the trial was repeatedly delayed. On principle, he refused to plead guilty.

Eventually he was released from prison, but not from the trauma he had suffered. On June 6, 2015, he committed suicide. 

Learn more about Browder’s story on Democracy Now! 

Find resources for below for teaching about incarceration.