In October 2014, New York City erupted in outrage at the story of Kalief Browder. Browder spent three years in confinement awaiting trial for stealing a backpack. Browder tragically committed suicide in 2015. He was held at Rikers because, like many of the City's most vulnerable residents, he could not post his $3,000 bail.
The president and congress should not leave out youth behind bars in efforts to reform criminal justice this year and their actions must focus on reforms at both the federal and state level. Kalief Browder and Andre Sheffield's deaths are a sobering reminder to the president and the congress of the urgency and the need to ensure youth behind bars are not left behind.
That institutional racism exists is not to be denied. That it permeates the very social fabric of America is manifest in our attitudes. There are many costs for these great injustices, not the least being the lives of children. In our schools, playgrounds and pools, America has a problem with Black children. And it is costing them their lives.