Inside R. Kelly’s life in prison

R. Kelly has been battling sexual misconduct allegations since the ’90s, but it wasn’t until 2019 that the “I Believe I Can Fly Singer” was placed behind bars to await a trial that, as of November 2020, has yet to happen.

As the BBC reports, Kelly’s questionable behavior began in 1994 when, at the age of 27, he married a 15-year-old Aaliyah. In 1996, he was sued by Tiffany Hawkins, who dated Kelly when she was 15 and alleged “personal injuries and emotional distress.” In the early 2000s, the singer was sued by three more women, and in 2002, he was slapped with 21 counts of making child pornography, followed by 12 more charges and an arrest in Florida. Insufficient evidence resulted in his walking free, and it wasn’t until a 2017 Buzzfeed feature alleged Kelly of running a sex “cult” that more women began to come forward. The Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly followed, and, as Billboard notes, Kelly was arrested in February 2019. He was charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against four women (including three minors) and was released on $100,000 bail.

That July, Kelly was arrested again, except this time, there would be no bail. After being charged with 18 counts of “kidnapping, forced labor, child sexual exploitation and child pornography production and obstruction of justice,” he was placed behind bars, where he remains. Here’s what R. Kelly’s life in prison is really like.

R. Kelly spent his 53rd birthday behind bars
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On July 11, 2019, R. Kelly was arrested while walking his dog in Chicago and slapped with a 13-count indictment, which, according to ABC News, included charges of “sexual exploitation of children, conspiracy to defraud the United States, coercion and child pornography.” He entered a plea of not guilty but remained behind bars at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago to await his trial, according to AJC.

Just a few weeks later, in August 2019, Kelly was brought into a courtroom by three US Marshals, as reported ABC News, with his hands “clasped” behind his back. Kelly was reportedly wearing “blue prison scrubs and orange slip-on shoes with a white and blue striped sole” and sporting a “thick beard” as he faced another set of charges, which were filed against him in Brooklyn Federal Court. This time, Kelly pled not guilty to five charges claiming he ran an “enterprise” made up of managers, drivers, assistants, and more whose job wasn’t just to promote his music but also to “recruit women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with Kelly.”

Despite Kelly’s plea, Magistrate Judge Steven L. Tiscione denied him bail and ordered the singer to be “detained pending trial.” On January 8, 2020, Kelly celebrated his 53rd birthday in jail, and, as of November 2020, it appears that’s where he’ll also be spending his 54th.

Inside R. Kelly’s life in prison

R. Kelly has been battling sexual misconduct allegations since the ’90s, but it wasn’t until 2019 that the “I Believe I Can Fly Singer” was placed behind bars to await a trial that, as of November 2020, has yet to happen.

As the BBC reports, Kelly’s questionable behavior began in 1994 when, at the age of 27, he married a 15-year-old Aaliyah. In 1996, he was sued by Tiffany Hawkins, who dated Kelly when she was 15 and alleged “personal injuries and emotional distress.” In the early 2000s, the singer was sued by three more women, and in 2002, he was slapped with 21 counts of making child pornography, followed by 12 more charges and an arrest in Florida. Insufficient evidence resulted in his walking free, and it wasn’t until a 2017 Buzzfeed feature alleged Kelly of running a sex “cult” that more women began to come forward. The Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly followed, and, as Billboard notes, Kelly was arrested in February 2019. He was charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against four women (including three minors) and was released on $100,000 bail.

That July, Kelly was arrested again, except this time, there would be no bail. After being charged with 18 counts of “kidnapping, forced labor, child sexual exploitation and child pornography production and obstruction of justice,” he was placed behind bars, where he remains. Here’s what R. Kelly’s life in prison is really like.

R. Kelly spent his 53rd birthday behind bars

On July 11, 2019, R. Kelly was arrested while walking his dog in Chicago and slapped with a 13-count indictment, which, according to ABC News, included charges of “sexual exploitation of children, conspiracy to defraud the United States, coercion and child pornography.” He entered a plea of not guilty but remained behind bars at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago to await his trial, according to AJC.

Just a few weeks later, in August 2019, Kelly was brought into a courtroom by three US Marshals, as reported ABC News, with his hands “clasped” behind his back. Kelly was reportedly wearing “blue prison scrubs and orange slip-on shoes with a white and blue striped sole” and sporting a “thick beard” as he faced another set of charges, which were filed against him in Brooklyn Federal Court. This time, Kelly pled not guilty to five charges claiming he ran an “enterprise” made up of managers, drivers, assistants, and more whose job wasn’t just to promote his music but also to “recruit women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with Kelly.”

Despite Kelly’s plea, Magistrate Judge Steven L. Tiscione denied him bail and ordered the singer to be “detained pending trial.” On January 8, 2020, Kelly celebrated his 53rd birthday in jail, and, as of November 2020, it appears that’s where he’ll also be spending his 54th.

R. Kelly will spend the pandemic behind bars

In late March 2020, shortly after the World Health Organization dubbed COVID-19 a pandemic, R. Kelly asked a federal judge to set him free due to health concerns, as reported by CBS Minnesota. In the filing, which was submitted to the US District Court in Chicago, the singer’s lawyers wrote that “the health risk to Mr. Kelly, because of his age and existing health issues, especially considering the conditions at the MCC, necessitates his release on bail.” They claimed that the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where Kelly is awaiting trial, lacks access to basic hygiene measures, including soap and hand sanitizer, and that the size of the cells makes social distancing impossible. They also argued that “the courts have long recognized that there is no greater necessity than keeping a defendant alive, no matter the charge.”

Their plea fell on deaf ears, however. As The Hollywood Reporter learned in April, Judge Ann M. Donnelly ruled that R. Kelly would remain in prison because he’s “a flight risk and poses a danger to the community, especially prospective witnesses.”

Is R. Kelly eating Snickers behind bars?

In August 2019, The Blast learned that R. Kelly’s lawyers were petitioning for his release from solitary confinement, claiming that the singer had “no meaningful interaction with other humans,” that he spent “no time outside getting sunlight,” and that he couldn’t buy snacks, even though other inmates were allowed to.

All of these claims of unfair treatment were quickly shut down by prosecutors who stated (via The Blast) that Kelly “has had a cellmate for quite some time despite his initial refusal. In fact, he has had more than one cellmate so far,” they added. What’s more, they revealed that as of September 2019, the “defendant had access to indoor recreation three times a week, though it was not outdoors on the rooftop” and that he had “seven social visits” to date, as well as three purely social phone calls. As for those snacks, they added that he “purchased items from the commissary, including snacks such as Snickers” and that “MCC staff have taken steps to ensure [the] defendant’s safety, and in doing so, have treated him with dignity and respect.”