Singer and convicted sex trafficker R. Kelly is suing the federal prison where he is serving a 30-year sentence, according to CBS News.
Lawyers for the 55-year-old “Ignition” singer claim that Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center placed Kelly on suicide watch in order to punish him. In an affidavit, Kelly’s attorney wrote that his client is not suicidal. He also claimed the facility’s suicide watch conditions will cause “real and lasting harm” to Kelly.
“Mr. Kelly impressed upon me repeatedly that he was not suicidal and the conditions of suicide watch at the MDC were extraordinarily stressful and harmful. He expressed on multiple occasions that he did not want to be put on suicide watch and that he was not suicidal and had no thoughts of harming himself or anyone else.”
Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison on June 29 for sex trafficking and federal racketeering. Kelly’s lawyers worried he would be placed on suicide watch after the verdict and told him to email them when he got to his cell. Kelly did not send the email which prompted his lawyers to contact the prison but received no information.
They were advised by a prosecutor after two days that Kelly was placed on suicide watch. Kelly’s team claimed the prosecutor said he was moved “for various reasons, such as age, crime, publicity, and sentencing.”
The affidavit also claimed the prison has a pattern of punishing high-profile prisoners and called the suicide watch protocols for non-suicidal individuals cruel punishment. They also claim Kelly’s Eighth Amendment guarantees are being violated. Prisoners on suicide watch are reportedly denied showers, shaves and forced to eat with their hands. They are also deprived of access to their family and forced to wear “a smock made of material that is akin to the material that moving companies use when wrapping furniture.”
His lawyers claim the explanation they were given suggests he is being placed on suicide watch for nefarious reasons.
“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 Federal Bureau of Prisons declined to comment on Kelly directly but said they are committed to ensuring the safety of all prisoners and staff.
“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.”