The Meadows Day 1

Source: Bernard Smalls / Bernard Smalls

Jigga man has earned himself a Peabody.

The honor was the result of his docuseries, Time: The Kalief Browder Story. The documentary tells Browder’s tale— how he sat on Riker’s Island for a crime he was never charged for because no one could afford the amount of his bail and he refused to cop a plea. How the prison system destroyed him and the ones who attacked him. How the guards were complicit in his torture if they were not its ringleader. All because he refused to lie about a crime he never committed.

That scenario is far more common than you think. This according to The Atlantic, “More than 60 percent of people locked up in America’s jails have not yet been to trial, and as many as nine in 10 of those people are stuck in jail because they can’t afford to post bond.”

That’s just one aspect of America’s turbulent justice system. The United States has the largest prison population in the world. The ACLU writes, “With only 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. has more than 20% of the world’s prison population – that makes us the world’s largest jailer.” And that wasn’t always the case. The American prison system has swelled an insane 400% since 1978.

Kalief Browder was a soul ground up under the specter of such a system. One that disproportionately places people who look like him in prison for offenses that are both non-violent and trivial, destroying their own lives and the lives of those in their community that love them. But Browder was special. For his tenacity, Jay said, “Our prophets come in many different shapes, forms, or mediums.This young man just by the fact that he brought all of us here today lets you know how powerful of a soul he was.”

A powerful soul lost too soon, chewed up by a system that is meant to do just that, Browder’s case has helped to shine a light on how unfair the bail system is. So if you haven’t seen Jay’s now Peabody winning documentary, what are you waiting for?