A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Time: The Kalief Browder Story is a documentary series about a young man who committed suicide after being incarcerated and held in solitary confinement for years without a trial. It discusses issues ranging from urban poverty and racism to theft, prison violence (sometimes shown), and depression (but all which is offered in context.) There’s some cursing ("f--k" is bleeped). It’s meant for more mature audiences, but older teens and their parents could learn from and discuss this tragic story.
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What's the story?
Co-produced by rapper Jay-Z, TIME: THE KALIEF BROWDER STORY is a documentary series that tells the story of the late Kalief Browder, a young black teenager who spent over 1000 days in a New York City prison without ever receiving a trial. On May 15, 2010, the 16-year-old Bronx high school student was arrested after being accused of stealing someone’s backpack. With the help of interviews with family members, attorneys, prison video, and additional media footage, it recounts how he ended up at Riker’s Island and incarcerated for three years, two of which he spent in solitary confinement, before the charges were dismissed. It also includes archived interviews with Kalief once he was out of prison, many of which reveal the devastating effects the experience had on him, and how it eventually led to his suicide in 2015. Throughout it all, the series highlights the dysfunctional nature of New York's criminal justice system, as well as some of the efforts made to fix it after Kalief’s story received national attention.
Is it any good?
This powerful series offers a disturbing look at how race and poverty impacts the way people are forced to navigate New York's broken criminal justice system. Time: The Kalief Browder Story details some of its fatal flaws, including how the overall system works against the poor, and the endless waits for hearings and trial dates, making it almost impossible for people to get out of prison unless they plead guilty to a crime regardless of their innocence. Meanwhile, it also discusses the impact of putting juveniles in solitary confinement, the details of which contributed to President Obama’s decision to ban the practice in federal prisons.
Time offers most of this within the context of Kalief Browder's experience, which only makes his story more tragic. The conversations with his family are often very difficult to watch, too. But the experts featured here, including defense and civil rights attorneys, and activists Van Jones, successfully outline how seemingly minor glitches in the system have far reaching and devastating consequences for those in it. Some may find these detailed discussions a little slow, while others may find the more emotional moments a little sensational. But the overall docu-series is an important, and often painful, reminder of the need for prison reform throughout the nation.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the reasons Kalief Browder was sent to, and kept, in prison for a crime he didn’t commit without a trial? Could this have happened to anybody? What could have prevented it? Did you learn anything from Time: The Kalief Browder Story?
Documentaries like Time: The Kalief Browder Story deal with very controversial issues. Is this because the producers want to raise awareness about an issue? To prompt change?
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