Woman: 16 Days in NJ Jail a 'Death Sentence'

Topless-rights activist Phoenix Feeley threatens hunger strike
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 9, 2013 9:48 AM CDT
Woman: 16 Days in NJ Jail a 'Death Sentence'

Phoenix Feeley thinks that conditions at Monmouth County Jail in New Jersey are so bad that a 16-day stay there amounts to a "death sentence." Feeley, a 33-year-old professional fire-eater, has been locked up for refusing to pay a $816 fine for going topless at Spring Lake beach in 2008. A judge handed down the 16-day sentence yesterday, the Asbury Park Press reports, in a hearing that Feeley attended via video conference from jail, clad in a jumpsuit with her arms handcuffed behind her back.

"You just filed a death sentence," Feeley said. She explained that she refuses to eat the jail's food, which she describes as "inhumane, grade four, less than McDonald's." She also said that the words "help me" were scrawled on the wall of her cell in someone else's blood, and alleged that the guards had abused her, threatened her, and kept her naked in her cell. Feeley believes that it's discriminatory that men can go topless in public, but not women. The stance has paid off in the past; after a 2005 arrest on an indecent exposure charge in New York City she sued the city and won a $29,000 settlement. But the same arguments didn't prevail in New Jersey. (Read more Phoenix Feeley stories.)

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