Rapper Shawn “Jay Z” Carter and Weinstein Television are partnering with Spike TV for TIME: The Kalief Browder Story, a six-part docuseries set to premiere in January that will examine deep inequality in the criminal justice system through the life and tragic death of Kalief Browder.
While still a 16-year old high school student, Browder was arrested in 2010 for allegedly stealing a backpack, and would spend more than three years in Rikers Island prison – two of them in solitary confinement – while awaiting trial. After 31 hearings and numerous postponements, the charges against Browder were dismissed in 2013 and he was released without ever having been tried. But the damage to his psyche was significant: Browder attempted suicide 5 times while in solitary confinement and, having never recovered from the ordeal, eventually succeeded in taking his own life in 2015, nearly two years to the day after his release. He has since become a symbol of efforts to reform the New York criminal justice system, and of opposition to abusive use of solitary confinement.
“Kalief Browder is a modern day prophet; his story a failure of the judicial process,” said Carter. “A young man, and I emphasize young man, who lost his life because of a broken system. His tragedy has brought atrocities to light and now we must confront the issues and events that occurred so other young men can have a chance at justice.”
TIME: The Kalief Browder Story will look comprehensively at Browder’s story through first-person accounts, archival footage, and cinematic recreations of key moments in Browder’s life. The series will feature exclusive interviews from a range of people connected to the story, including friends and family, politicians, and social reformers.
“Jay Z, Kevin Kay, Sharon Levy and the entire team at Spike have been incredible partners on this project. What happened to Kalief is heartbreaking, but sadly, in reality, not the first of its kind,” said TWC co-chairman Harvey Weinstein. “This series will take an important look at why Kalief’s life was cut so short, the flaws in our justice system and hopefully will continue some powerful conversations and movements for some much needed reform.”
“Kalief’s story should endure and inspire much-needed change in the criminal justice system,” said Sharon Levy, Spike’s Executive Vice President, Original Series. “When Weinstein Television brought us this project, we immediately knew it was a story that had to be told.”
Directed by Jenner Furst of Brooklyn-based company The Cinemart, TIME: The Kalief Browder Story is executive produced by Carter, Weinstein, Furst, David Glasser, Nick Sandow, Julia Willoughby Nason, and Michael Gasparro. Levy, along with Senior Vice President of Original Series for Spike Chachi Senior will oversee the documentary series for the network.