In 2012, Candie Hailey was sent to New York City’s Rikers Island prison after getting into a fight. The Associated Press reports that she was held for three years while awaiting trial, and spent 2 1/3 of those years in solitary confinement — or “the bing,” as it is known among inmates. Hailey was first sent to the bing after getting into an argument about cleaning the jailhouse showers; it was the beginning of a vicious, self-destructive cycle, in which Hailey would act out in the hope of getting temporarily released from solitary for treatment. “I would take the feces and I put it all over me,” she said. “I said, ‘If you’re gonna treat me like a dog, I’m gonna act like one.’” Each infraction — cursing at an officer, splashing a guard with toilet water, blocking her cell window — only earned her more time in solitary confinement. When Hailey slit her wrists with shards of glass, she was given 90 days in the bing for possession of contraband.
Solitary confinement is the most common method of punishment for inmates — between 80,000 and 100,000 Americans are held in solitary ever day — but experts say that this mode of discipline can be psychologically damaging. During her stay at Rikers, Hailey was diagnosed with borderline character disorder, mood disorder and antisocial personality disorder, but was not considered a candidate for units that house inmates with severe mental illnesses. She tried to kill herself at least eight times while incarcerated.
At the end of this hellish pre-trial period, Hailey was found not guilty of the crime for which she was sent to prison. Since her release, she has had trouble reintegrating to society, passing in and out of homeless shelters and sometimes sleeping on subway cars at night. She has tried to kill herself twice. “I would say I’ve been through hell and back,” Hailey said. “My soul died but my body is alive.” Watch the the video report below by The Associated Press, which goes into more detail about the indignities Hailey suffered while locked up, including what happened when she was refused sanitary pads while she had her period.
Read the full story at the The Associated Press.