Candie Hailey said she wanted to show authorities exactly how a caged dog would act.
“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.’”
Hailey spent three years in Rikers Island awaiting trial for a crime she was later found innocent of. She maintained her innocence in a 2012 murder case, claiming self-defense, and was found not guilty in 2015.
Now, she could face more time because of her behavior in jail while locked up in solitary confinement for over two years of her three-year stint.
“I would say I’ve been through hell and back,” she said. “My soul died but my body is alive.”
Hailey, who served 27 months alone in a 6-by-10-foot cell within her first 29 months in jail, allegedly broke a chair used during scans of inmates’ body cavities at Rikers and is currently on trial facing charges of felony criminal mischief as well as several misdemeanors.
The Bronx-native reportedly had a chaotic and sometimes violent stay at Rikers where she attempted suicide several times by using various methods, including banging her head against a cell wall and trying to electrocute herself by putting a phone cord in her cell’s toilet.
But Hailey said it was all a strategic move to be temporarily released from solitary and sent for mental health treatment where she was diagnosed with borderline character disorder, mood disorder, and anti-social personality disorder.
Officials too often rely on solitary to punish inmates, many criminal justice experts say. And research shows how that form of punishment can be psychologically distressing, especially for prisoners who go into it with preexisting mental illnesses, like Hailey.
In total, Hailey spent just over two years in solitary during her three years at Rikers and is still struggling to break free of the trauma of her confinement.
Now, Hailey, 32, could serve an additional seven years in jail if found guilty for the new charges.
“Honestly I think I’d be better off in jail,” she said. “It’s like a nightmare, like everyone’s out there trying to get me.”
(Photos: AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)