Jay Z has teamed up with Spike TV for a new six-part documentary series chronicling the story of Kalief Browder. After being arrested as a 16-year-old over allegations of stealing a backpack, Browder was subsequently imprisoned on Rikers Island for over three years (two of which were spent in solitary confinement) with no set date for trial. When the case was eventually dismissed in June 2013, Browder struggled with a series of mental health problems before tragically committing suicide two years later at the age of just 22.
Jay Z, who initially met with Browder upon his release, said he was “thrown off course” when he heard the news of the youngster’s untimely passing, and immediately began drawing up plans with producer and studio executive Harvey Weinstein in an attempt to bring the story to wider a consciousness.
Speaking at a press conference discussing the series, Jay Z said:
I got a call from Chaka [Pilgrim] and she told me that he had taken his own life. I was thrown off course. I was asking myself, this story doesn’t end like this, it’s not supposed to end this way. That’s not how the story goes. Not in the movies, not in real life. Shortly after things start happening, Obama starts talking about a crime bill and eliminating solitary confinement for minors. I know that was Kalief. All of these things start happening and we came across these fabulous filmmakers and everything started happening the way it should have been.
Titled TIME: The Kalief Browder Story, the series debuts on Spike in January 2017 and will feature interviews with Browder’s friends and family, as well as prison security footage and first-person accounts. The show announcement follows the news that Jay Z has already been working closely with The Weinstein Company — owners of Spike TV — on a Richard Pryor documentary.
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- Feature and Gallery Image: Getty