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Bronx teen spent three years in prison without trial after accusation of petty theft

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Bronx high school student Kalief Browder was 16 years old when he was falsely accused of stealing a backpack. The subsequent years were a living hell for the teen, who was ultimately imprisoned for 3 years without ever facing trial. During that time he spent 800 days in solitary confinement. When Browder pressed for a trial, prosecutors pushed plea deals on him; he refused them all. He was innocent, he said, and he wanted a trial.

Ultimately the case was dismissed, but not before a judge warned him to accept the plea. If he was convicted at trial he could face 15 years, the judge told him.

The New York Department of Corrections has since stopped putting children in solitary confinement.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.