Of all the stories to emerge about the horrors of life on Rikers Island in recent years, Candie Hailey’s is among the most horrifying. For two years, Hailey was kept in solitary confinement for a crime for which she was eventually acquitted, a time she says was filled with physical and sexual abuse from guards. Now, Hailey is filing a lawsuit against the city seeking $10 million in damages, the New York Daily News reports.
Hailey was arrested in 2012 for the attempted murder, and was found not guilty in court three years later. She spent the interim period on Rikers, the vast majority of it in solitary. An Associated Press story earlier this year detailed Hailey’s time there, which included multiple suicide attempts. “I would say I’ve been through hell and back,” she said. “My soul died but my body is alive.”
Hailey also said she tried to commit suicide “more than 100 times” after being groped and threatened by guards and forced to submit to “gratuitous strip searches.”
In one February 2015 incident, a Rikers captain allegedly punched Hailey in the head and put his finger in her anus, according to the notice of claim, which is filed before a lawsuit can be initiated.
A New York City Department of Correction spokesperson told the News the department was looking into the allegations. “Commissioner (Joseph) Ponte has zero tolerance for sexual assaults of inmates, and we take these allegations seriously,” the spokesperson said. “The vast majority of our officers carry out their duties with care and integrity, and we are taking many steps to ensure that all staff adhere to the highest professionalism.”