A little more than two weeks before the New York Democratic gubernatorial primary, candidate Cynthia Nixon has released a new video endorsement from Akeem Browder, the brother of Kalief Browder, a New York City teen who took his own life after being locked in jail for years without going to trial.
While Browder first declared his endorsement of Nixon two weeks ago, the video puts a spotlight on criminal justice reform, a central part of her platform—and an issue on which she has harshly criticized her opponent, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“Kalief was a product of the school-to-prison pipeline that swallow innocent and blameless youth for insignificant allegations like stealing a backpack, robbing three years from what could have been a graduation or a time to build relationships, or to even develop himself into the great man he could have been today,” Browder says in the video.
In 2010, a 16-year-old Kalief was arrested for allegedly stealing a backpack. He was placed at Rikers Island jail in New York City for three years—much of that time in solitary confinement—while he awaited trail.
Ultimately, the case was dismissed, but imprisonment had a profound effect on the New York City teen, who killed himself two years later.
Nixon, who sits alongside Browder throughout the video, points out that thousands of New York residents are “languishing in jail” as they await trial, faulting the cash bail system, which punishes them for being “too poor and too black.”
“Tonight, those people will be sleeping in cages. And Harvey Weinstein, who can afford his $1 million bail, will be sleeping in his own bed,” Nixon says, looking straight into the camera. “That’s not justice.”
In the video, Browder also calls out Cuomo, for failing to keep his promises on reforming the criminal justice system. Browder has pushed to shut down Rikers Island jail.
Nixon and Cuomo will face off in a debate this Wednesday—their only one—before the Sept. 13 primary. As of Monday morning, polls show Nixon trailing Cuomo by 30 points, according to the New York Daily News.