Disgraced R&B singer R. Kelly is suing a Brooklyn prison that housed him since his conviction for placing unnecessarily putting him on suicide watch. The singer was sent to MDC Brooklyn on Wednesday after receiving 30 years in prison for federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges against him.
Kelly’s lawyer Jennifer Bonjean said the facility’s decision of putting him on suicide watch was for “purely punitive reasons” and in direct violation of his Eighth Amendment rights, reported People. Kelly is now suing MDC Brooklyn, claiming he’s not suicidal and that the facility’s decision is a “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Bonjean stated, “MDC has a policy of placing high profile individuals under the harsh conditions of suicide watch whether they are suicidal or not,” also referencing similar allegations made by Ghislaine Maxwell’s legal team.
She continued, “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).”
Kelly was advised by his lawyers to send them an email after returning to his prison cell, to ensure he wasn’t placed on suicide watch. Two days had passed and the legal team hadn’t heard from the disgraced singer.
After unsuccessful attempts to receive updates on Kelly’s location by Kelly’s lawyers, the prosecutor confirmed the singer was placed on suicide watch, according to CBS News.
Kelly’s lawyers were allegedly told that Kelly had been moved “for various reasons, such as age, crime, publicity, and sentencing.” The lawsuit states, “this explanation suggests that the reasons for placing Mr. Kelly on suicide watch have nothing to do with him as an individual or even whether he actually is a suicide risk.”
The lawsuit stated that suicide watch conditions are unconstitutional for those who are not a suicide risk. The court documents alleged that “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.”
Documents further add that the inmates are “monitored 24-7 by prison officials” but “don’t even receive psychiatric care” and “have no ability to consult with loved ones or supportive figures.”
In September 2021, Kelly, 55, was found guilty of one count of racketeering and eight counts of sex trafficking. The decision came after a grand jury heard testimonies from 45 witnesses, including 11 victims who were allegedly sexually abused by the musician.