Shortly after revealing his new television and film partnership with The Weinstein Company, Jay Z has announced their first project, a six-part Spike TV docuseries that tackles the criminal justice system: “TIME: The Kalief Browder Story.”
As a 16-year-old in the Bronx, Browder was arrested in 2010 for allegedly stealing a backpack. He denied the allegations, but spent three years on Rikers Islands, two of which were under solitary confinement. His charges were dropped and he was eventually released before his case ever went to trial. In 2015, he committed suicide. He was 22.
“Kalief Browder is a modern day prophet; his story a failure of the judicial process,” said Jay Z in a statement. “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.”
TWC’s co-chair Harvey Weinstein added: “What happened to Kalief is heartbreaking, but sadly, in reality, not the first of its kind. 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.”
During a press conference on Thursday (Oct. 6), Jay Z said it was his duty to shed light on the controversy. “We’re here to bring awareness and light to Kalief’s story,” he said. “That’s why we’re here.”
He also reflected on meeting Browder before his passing. “I just wanted to give him words of encouragement,” he said, “that I saw his story and I’m proud of him for making it through, and to keep pushing…He’s done more in 19 years than most do in a lifetime.”
“TIME: The Kalief Browder Story” is set to air in January 2017 on Spike TV.