Rapper and business mogul Jay Z spoke out about the conditions at New York-based prison Rikers Island during a recent interview with Democracy Now.
On the heels of the premiere of his documentary series “Time: The Kalief Browder Story” at the Sundance Film Festival, the music icon told Democracy Now‘s Amy Goodman that he considers Browder to be a prophet that will force people to see the injustices of the criminal justice system.
“Well, you know, we’ve seen prophets come in many shapes and forms, and we’ve seen, you know, sometimes tragedy happens for our prophets — Martin Luther King. And, you know, I believe this young man, his story, will save a lot of lives,” the rapper says. “You know, what was done to him was a huge injustice, and I think people see his story and realize like, ‘Man, this is going on … This is happening a lot for people, you know, especially places where I come from — inner boroughs and Marcy Projects and the Bronx and Brooklyn and all these places.”
The docuseries documents Browder’s tragic story and subsequent suicide in 2015. At 16, Browder was arrested and sent to Rikers in 2010 for allegedly stealing a backpack. Browder spent 800 days of the 3 years he was incarcerated in solitary confinement. The young man took his life at age 22 nearly two years after being freed.
When asked about the conditions at the notorious prison and whether it should be closed, Jay Z said Browder’s story makes the case for its closure.
“Well, if anything like that is happening, if one kid—if that happens to one kid, any place that that can happen to any kid should be closed.”