‘TIME: Kalief Browder Story’ is a heart-wrenching documentary about a young man who is failed by a system on numerous occasions.
Producer Jenner Furst is known for producing outstanding, thought-provoking documentaries such Chicagoland (2014). Time: The Kalief Browder Story premiered on BET, then on SPIKE, and the six-part doc-series is now available on Netflix.
‘Time: The Kalief Browder Story’ follows a young sixteen-year-old boy from the Bronx, following his experience of being falsely accused of robbery. After his arrest, Browder is incarcerated in the Riker’s Island prison while awaiting trial, which is delayed for a three-year period. During Browder’s time at Riker’s, he endures brutal beatings on multiple occasions, withholding of food, mental manipulation and over a year in solitary confinement. The environment is been so toxic and traumatizing that Browder attempts to take his young life on multiple occasions.
When the delay is finally lifted and the trial begins, there is no substantial witness or evidence to hold up in court and Browder is released. Now considered a hero, he undertakes a twenty-million-dollar, high-profile, public lawsuit against the prison and the city of New York. Browder’s story seems to be looking up and thinks that upon his release, his life will go back to normal.
Browder expects to thrive in personal and professional life, but that is unfortunately not the case. Browder struggles severely with his mental health when tasting freedom. There are seemingly-simple aspects of Browder’s life which he feels slipping out of his control. He tries finding employment and is never successful. He can’t even walk around his back yard without walking in a square, as he did in his cell. Many people in his area threaten and commit violent acts against him. Browder endures two incidents where he was stabbed and shot. He often states that “no matter what I do I feel like I’m cursed.” Browder fights for justice and is an advocate, but even after enduring such hardship, ends up taking his own life.
Kalief Browder’s life did not go in vain. After his death, a bill is passed called 1348-A. This bill mandates that all individuals in the Riker’s facility must have five hours of productive programs, including vocational training or counselling. This change would not have taken place if Kalief had not endured his own tragedy in the judicial system.
In 2017, Furst’s doc-series won a Peabody Award, and has received high ratings on IMDB and on Rotten Tomatoes.
Why should you watch ‘Time: The Kalief Browder Story’? Well, this documentary truthfully was one of the most difficult doc-series I have sat through to date. The thought of a young Kalief having to go through mental and physical torment in a facility that is supposed to rehabilitate their population left me feeling a combination of emotions – anger, and sadness mainly. This documentary is important to watch in order to shine a light on the work we have in front of us to make sure another young life does not endure what Kalief had.
Jenner Furst’s Time: The Kalief Browder Story is available to stream on Netflix.