Felony Charges Against Woman Who Spent Years In Solitary Dropped

Prosecutors dismiss criminal charges against Candie Hailey, a New York woman who served over two years in solitary confinement at Rikers Island.

Judge William Mogulescu in the Bronx, New York, ruled on Monday to clear a woman, who spent over two years in solitary confinement, of criminal charges involving confrontations with prison guards during three years of pre-trial jail term at Rikers Island.

Candie Hailey, 32, who had faced up to seven years in prison for allegedly destroying a chair used to scan inmates’ body cavities for contraband, was acquitted of a felony and three misdemeanors, but pleaded guilty to four counts of disorderly conduct affiliated with her hellish time behind bars.

“I feel great! 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 said about the ruling.

In 2012, Hailey was involved in a fistfight with three women who later accused her of stabbing a baby during the brawl. She was arrested and sent to jail for three years awaiting trials for a charge of attempted murder.

Hailey dismissed the women’s claims saying she was the victim, and that the child was injured when the stroller was knocked over by one of the women.

She was exonerated last year after a month-long trial.

Hailey served about 27 of her first 29 months in 23-hour isolation for breaching prison rules, during which she frequently hurt herself by banging her head against her cell or slitting her wrists with shards of glass. She attempted to commit suicide at least eight times.

During her chaotic stay at Rikers Island, she was diagnosed with marginal character disorder, mood disorder and anti-social personality disorder, but was not considered a candidate for units that house inmates with severe mental illnesses.

Advocates have criticized prison officials for keeping Hailey in solitary confinement saying someone in her position needed psychiatric help, not torture through isolation.

There are ongoing calls to end solitary confinement in American jailhouses, as many, including the U.N. special rapporteur on torture have cautioned that solitary confinement “can amount to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment when used as a punishment, during pre-trial detention, indefinitely or for a prolonged period, for persons with mental disabilities, or juveniles.”

Hailey’s struggles continue as works hard to fitting back into society. We hope her plight serves as an eye opener to criminal justice experts in our broken system and that she gets the help she need.

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