“I am innocent.” These three words caught my attention as I watched “Time: The Kalief Browder Story,” a six-part documentary series that aired on SpikeTV throughout the month of March to the beginning of April. Browder was only 16 years old when he was arrested for allegedly stealing a backpack and sent to the Rikers Island Prison Complex, where he spent three years before he was eventually set free, never having gone to trial.
However, just like many Black males, he faced the hardships of dealing with wrongful imprisonment and constant mental and physical abuse in prison. He committed suicide two years after leaving Rikers.
The documentary painted the gruesome picture of the cruelty of the United States criminal justice system through the agony, torture and impactful legacy of Browder. More importantly, it shed some light on an epidemic that has started to be given importance by many academics, activists and educators—the school-to-prison pipeline.
What is the school-to-prison pipeline?
The school-to-prison pipeline is described by the American Civil Liberties Union as, “the policies and practices that push our school children out of the classroom and into juvenile and criminal systems.” (New York Amsterdam News)