R. Kelly has been placed on suicide watch after being sentenced to 30 yearsin prison for federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges earlier this week, and now he’s suing the prison.
Kelly’s lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, said in a statement to PEOPLE Friday that the decision to put her client on suicide watch was for “purely punitive reasons” because he’s a “high-profile inmate,” and violates his Eighth Amendment rights.
Now, the disgraced R&B singer (whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly) is suing MDC Brooklyn – the detention center he’s currently being held in – for doing so, claiming he’s not suicidal, claiming it is a “cruel and unusual punishment,” according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.
“MDC has a policy of placing high profile individuals under the harsh conditions of suicide watch whether they are suicidal or not (this was done recently with Ghislaine Maxwell),” Bonjean told PEOPLE.
“MDC Brooklyn is being run like a gulag. My partner and I spoke with Mr. Kelly following his sentencing, he expressed that he was mentally fine and ONLY expressed concern that even though he was NOT suicidal, MDC would place him on suicide watch (as they did following the guilty verdict),” she added. “We have just sued MDC Brooklyn.”
Suicide watch is a state of confinement so harsh that it “can and does cause serious mental harm” to a non-suicidal inmate, Bonjean argues in the court documents.
“Inmates are stripped of their clothing and underwear and dressed in a smock made of material that is akin to the material that moving companies use when wrapping furniture,” the complaint alleges, adding that inmates are “typically placed in a single cell without bed rails and offered no items of comfort.”
“They cannot shower or shave and are sometimes not even afforded toilet paper. Meals are not provided with utensils, forcing inmates to eat with their hands. They have no ability to consult with loved ones or supportive figures,” the complaint claims. “And of course, they are monitored 24-7 by prison officials. Ironically, individuals on ‘suicide watch’ don’t even receive psychiatric care.”
A representative for the Bureau of Prisons, which MDC Brooklyn, told PEOPLE they could not comment directly about Kelly’s imprisonment.
“For safety and security reasons the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) does not provide information about conditions of confinement or internal security practices for any particular inmate,” read a statement from the BOP to PEOPLE.
“The BOP is committed to ensuring the safety and security of all inmates in our population, our staff, and the public. Humane treatment of the men and women in our custody is a top priority. The BOP does not comment on pending litigation or matters that are the subject of legal proceedings.”
Kelly, 55, was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison on Wednesday following decades of sexual abuse allegations.
Last year, after a six-week trial that included testimony from 45 witnesses in a Brooklyn courtroom, a jury found him guilty of racketeering and violations of an anti-sex-trafficking law known as the Mann Act.
At the time, Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Geddes said Kelly masterminded a scheme to “target, groom and exploit girls, boys and women.”
They’re grasping at straws.
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