The convicted sex offender claims that he is not suicidal and that the Metropolitan Detention Center is effectively punishing him by placing him on suicide watch.
Convicted sex offender R. Kelly has filed a lawsuit against a Brooklyn prison for placing him on suicide watch days after he received a 30-year sentence.
According to Rolling Stone, placing high-profile inmates on suicide watch is often standard practice: Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell was also placed on suicide watch in the same facility “without justification.”
However, Kelly attorney Jennifer Bonjean told People Magazine that suicide watch placements at the Metropolitan Detention Center are often enacted for “purely punitive reasons,” and could constitute “cruel and unusual punishment” in violation of her client’s constitutional rights.
Bonjean claims that Kelly now suffers from “severe mental distress.”
Speaking to People, Bonjean compared M.D.C. to a Soviet-era gulag, where inmates are routinely deprived of their civil rights.
“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),” Bonjean said told People. “We have just sued MDC Brooklyn.”
Rolling Stone notes that inmates placed on suicide watch are placed in solitary confinement and subject to constant surveillance.
In his lawsuit, Kelly asserts that he cannot receive basic, every-day items, including shaving razors and dining utensils.
“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.”
However, Metropolitan Detention Center officials indicated that Kelly’s psychological evaluation suggested the disgraced singer-songwriter might be suicidal.
“As part of the assessment conducted on June 29, 2022, psychology staff considered several empirically validated factors commonly associated with risk of self-harm and suicide. These factors are broken into three categories: static, dynamic, and protective,” Metropolitan Detention Center staff psychologist Andrea Reddy said in a declaration, submitted by the Bureau of Prisons as part of a motion to dismiss Kelly’s complaint. “The staff psychologist, having considered these factors, determined that suicide watch was clinically indicated for the Plaintiff.”
Kelly, adds Rolling Stone, was sentenced to 30 years in prison last week after being found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking.
Kelly is also schedule to face further criminal charges in Chicago, where he stands accused of receiving child pornography, enticing a minor into illegal sexual activity, and conspiracy to obstruct justice.