While in solitary confinement Candie Hailey was physically and sexually abused by prison guards leading to her numerous suicide attempts.
Candie Hailey, a Bronx woman, who spent more than two years in solitary confinement at Rikers Island before being acquitted, is preparing a $10 million lawsuit against the city and prison officials, New York Daily News reports.
According to the News, the 32-year-old African-American woman claims in the lawsuit that the sexual and physical abuse she endured from guards while at Rikers is responsible for the “more than 100” attempts she made at taking her own life.
Hailey spent 29 months behind bars, 27 of which was in solitary confinement while awaiting trial on charges of attempted murder of a 3-month-old baby in 2012 – a crime she was acquitted of last May.
Hailey, who has numerous scars from attempted suicides on her forearms, said she tried to end her own life with anything at her disposal, including objects like broken light bulbs and plastic cups. She also once swallowed a bottle of Nair, a popular hair removal chemical sold at the commissary.
“I just wanted to die. I didn’t think about anything else,” Hailey told the Daily News. “It was taking too long to prove my innocence.”
“The solitary room is really cold. It smells like death,” she said. “It smells like urine, feces, vomit, mildew, mold.”
Hailey’s notice of claim, which is filed before a lawsuit can be initiated, detailed a February 2015 incident, in which a Rikers captain punched her in the head and put his finger in her anus.
“Candie Hailey’s treatment by correction officers at Rikers Island was less than inhumane and invokes images of slavery,” said her attorney, Paul Prestia.
According to Prestia, Hailey’s multiple hospitalization in the psychiatric wards at Elmhurst Hospital was not enough to dissuade prison officials, who “continually put [her] back into solitary confinement.” She also added that such animosity from prison authorities towards Hailey is a crime.
Hailey’s case highlights the systemic and inhumane abuse inmates, especially those in need of mental health care, face in prisons across America.
The system failed Hailey by keeping her behind bars awaiting trial for a crime, of which she was eventually cleared, for years .
Our correction facilities are supposed to make inmates better. But that is clearly not the case for Hailey, who still suffers from suicidal thoughts and struggles to integrate into society.
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