Kalief was only 16 years old when he was picked up on the streets in Harlem; accused of stealing someone's backpack, even though he didn't have the backpack and was innocent. He maintained his innocence thru 3 years of being incarcerated at Riker's island, much of that time he was held in solitary confinement. Kalief was given the choice to plead guilty and be released on probation; but he stood up for his right to remain innocent because he was innocent. This is how the system gets it's hands on the youth, they set their bail too high and then essentially bribe them with their freedom in order to be released.
The essence of the problem is within the systemic racism that incarcerates black, native & latino youth at disproportionately higher rates. a full 80% of youth aged 16-17 are non-white.
It is the vestiges of slavery which now exists within our prison industrial complex. Kids are indoctrinated into this life at an early age in the school to prison pipeline.
Kalief should have never been locked up in an adult prison. He ought never have been picked up at all for a crime he didn't commit. Being kept in solitary for over 2 years permanently damaged him emotionally. This led to his severe depression when he finally did get out of that hell. He was still in Hell because it was inside his head. He chose escape, tragically, through suicide.
much love to his family for the recent loss of their Mom Venida Browder.
Today there are many in the same position that Kalief was in, still in solitary; still being held in adult prisons.
Please read more here: RAISE THE AGE NY