New York City to Pay $3.3M to Kalief Browder’s Family to Settle Lawsuit

The City of New York has agreed to pay $3.3 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the estate of Kalief Browder, the 22-year-old Bronx native whose detainment revealed major cracks in New York’s criminal justice system and fueled efforts to end solitary confinement of youths in city jails.

Browder was just 16 years old when he was arrested in 2010 and accused of stealing a book bag. He refused to plead guilty or accept a plea bargain in the robbery case, spending three years and more than 30 court appearances on Rikers Island awaiting trial. Nearly two of those years were spent in solitary confinement. Three years after his release in 2013, Browder hanged himself at his childhood home in the Bronx.

“Kalief Browder’s story helped to inspire numerous reforms to the justice system to prevent this tragedy from ever happening again, including an end to punitive segregation for young people on Rikers Island,” the city’s law department said in a statement Thursday. The city and Browder’s family confirmed the settlement, which was cited in court documents, earlier this week.

“We hope that this settlement and our continuing reforms help bring some measure of closure to the Browder family,” the statement added. The family’s attorney, Sanford A. Rubenstein, called the judgment “fair” and said the documents would soon be sent to a judge for finalization.