Put on Suicide Watch, R. Kelly Sues

Lawyer calls treatment by detention center 'purely punitive'
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2022 12:55 PM CDT
Put on Suicide Watch, R. Kelly Sues
In this courtroom sketch, R. Kelly briefly addresses Judge Ann Donnelly during his sentencing in federal court on Wednesday in New York.   (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)

(Newser) – R. Kelly has begun his 30-year prison sentence on suicide watch, and he's gone to court to change that. Jennifer Bonjean, a lawyer for Kelly, said the suicide watch at Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn was imposed for "purely punitive reasons," NBC News reports. "MDC Brooklyn is being run like a gulag," said Bonjean, who added that she spoke with the R&B star after his sentencing Wednesday on federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges. "He expressed that he was mentally fine, was behaving appropriately, and was eager to pursue his appeal," she said.

Court documents obtained by People show that Kelly has sued MDC Brooklyn. The Bureau of Prisons declined to comment on Kelly's case. Bonjean, who said Kelly wouldn't hurt himself, said the treatment violates his Eighth Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment. When they're on suicide watch, prisoners often have to wear a tear-resistant smock and are placed in a bare cell. They're subject to increased observation by guards. The court filing says they're not allowed to shower or shave and have to eat with their hands because their meals don't come with utensils. "Ironically, individuals on 'suicide watch' don't even receive psychiatric care," the complaint says. (Read more R. Kelly stories.)

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