R. Kelly has been placed on suicide watch at the federal detention facility in Brooklyn where he is being held following his sentencing to 30 years in prison on racketeering and sex trafficking charges.
His lawyers who stated that the singer will be suing the federal prison housing him, insisted that there is no reason for Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center to put the 55-year-old Kelly on suicide watch.
They added that doing so is causing “real and lasting harm” to the singer. Court documents allege that both before and after the sentencing, the singer was mentally stable and showed no signs of behavior that would justify placing him on suicide watch.
Kelly’s lawyer wrote in an accompanying affidavit;
“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.”
To ensure he wouldn’t be sent to suicide watch, Kelly’s lawyers told him to email them as soon as he returned to the cell after his sentencing, the documents said. When they didn’t receive an email, the lawyers said, they repeatedly tried contacting the prison but were not able to get an update on Kelly’s location until two days later, when a prosecutor confirmed he had been placed on suicide watch.
The prosecutor allegedly told Kelly’s legal team that MDC’s legal team said he had been moved “for various reasons, such as age, crime, publicity, and sentencing.”
One of the singer’s lawyers, Jennifer Bonjean told CNN; “The irony of putting someone on suicide watch when they’re not suicidal is it actually causes more harm.
“Mr Kelly was placed on suicide watch for purely punitive reasons in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights
“MDC has a policy of placing high profile individuals under the harsh conditions of suicide watch whether they are suicidal or not. MDC Brooklyn is being run like a gulag.”
Ms Bonjean added that she had spoken with Kelly following the sentencing and he shared that he was mentally fine, but concerned that authorities would put him on suicide watch as they had after the guilty verdict.
She added; “We are in the process of filing an emergency rule to show cause with the courts.
“MDC Brooklyn’s confinement of Mr Kelly to suicide watch is illegal, and they will be held accountable for it.”
Kelly, 55, was sentenced to 30 years in prison earlier this week for racketeering and other charges related to a criminal enterprise he ran for decades that allowed him to prey on and sexually abuse a number of his fans and others he drew into his inner circle.
Also read; R Kelly sentenced to 30 years in prison
Editing by Omotola Oguneye