Woman's Rikers Nightmare Ends in Plea Deal

Candie Hailey, 32, spent more than 2 years in solitary
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2016 6:45 PM CDT
Woman's Rikers Nightmare Ends in Plea Deal
In this July 23, 2015 file photo, Candie Hailey, center, speaks during a monthly rally calling for the end of solitary confinement in New York.    (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

Candie Hailey's horrific experience with Rikers Island—which included solitary confinement, suicide attempts, and smearing feces on herself—has finally ended in a plea deal, the AP reports. The 32-year-old pleaded guilty to non-criminal charges Monday for her behavior at Rikers, where she served 29 months awaiting a trial where she was found not guilty last year. "I feel great," Hailey says in the Bronx. "But I wouldn't have ever had to agree to lesser charges of disorderly conduct if I hadn't been there in the first place." Hailey, who spent 27 months in solitary at Rikers and attempted suicide there at least eight times, faced a possible seven year sentence for confronting guards and breaking a jailhouse chair. Now she's free, but says her life is badly damaged.

Hailey was charged with attempted murder in 2012 when three woman claimed she had stabbed a 4-month old baby during a fistfight, the AP reported in February. Hailey argued she was the victim and said one of the women injured the baby by knocking over its stroller in the fight. Awaiting trial at Rikers, she was diagnosed with three personality disorders during "a chaotic and sometimes violent stay," says Gawker. She also developed a strategy of acting out to get out of solitary: "I would take the feces and I put it all over me," says Hailey. "I said, 'If you're gonna treat me like a dog, I'm gonna act like one.'" Now free, she has struggled to reconnect with family and get reliable housing. "I would say I've been through hell and back," she says. "My soul died but my body is alive." (Read more Rikers Island stories.)

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