Kalief Browder, 22, who spent two of his three years at Rikers Island in solitary confinement, drew the attention of Bill de Blasio, Rand Paul and other public figures after he was written about last year in The New Yorker.
Once out of jail, Ms. Gonnerman said, “he almost recreated the conditions of solitary,” shutting himself in his bedroom for long periods. “He was very uncomfortable being around people, especially in large groups,” she said.
Mr. de Blasio’s administration in December did away with solitary confinement for 16- and 17-year-olds, citing the damaging effects that prolonged isolation can have on their mental stability.
In a statement released on Monday, the mayor said that “Kalief’s story helped inspire our efforts” at Rikers.
“There is no reason he should have gone through this ordeal,” he added, “and his tragic death is a reminder that we must continue to work each day to provide the mental health services so many New Yorkers need.”