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Teenager commits suicide after spending 3 years in jail without being charged with any crime


Kalief Browder was sent to Rikers Island when he was 16 years old, accused of stealing a backpack. Though he never stood trial or was found guilty of any crime, he spent three years at the New York City jail complex, nearly two of them in solitary confinement.

In October 2014, after he was written about in The New Yorker, his case became a symbol of what many saw as a broken criminal justice system. Mayor Bill de Blasio cited the article this spring when he announced an effort to clear the backlogs in state courts and reduce the inmate population at Rikers.

For a while, it appeared Mr. Browder was putting his life back together: He earned a high school equivalency diploma and started community college. But he continued to struggle with life after Rikers.

On Saturday, he committed suicide at his parents’ home in the Bronx.

Jennifer Gonnerman, the author of the article in The New Yorker, said in an interview on Monday that it appeared he was never able to recover from the years he spent locked alone in a cell for 23 hours a day.

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