R. Kelly was moved Tuesday from the Metropolitan Correctional Center’s Special Housing Unit to the downtown jail’s general population.
The R&B singer’s move came a few days after his criminal defense attorney, Steve Greenberg, filed a motion asking for Kelly’s release from “solitary confinement,” where he’d had “no meaningful interaction with other humans” since his arrest in July. Greenberg told the Sun-Times last week about the planned move.
According to a Tuesday court filing by federal prosecutors, though, Kelly’s time in the SHU was “largely the result of his own choices.”
“The SHU is certainly more restrictive than general population, but defendant’s last three weeks in the SHU were not in solitary, and in any event, until recently, defendant preferred to be in the SHU over general population,” prosecutors wrote.
In their response to Greenberg’s motion, prosecutors included a timeline of events since Kelly’s arrest that, they argue, show the singer has had plenty of autonomy while incarcerated.
On July 18, a week after his arrest, Kelly refused a cellmate. Greenberg previously told the Chicago Sun-Times that the other inmate had gotten in trouble with jail staff for making a shank.
During a phone call the next day, Kelly told someone that “he wasn’t sure if he wanted to go to general population ‘because if I go to population, it’s…I’m just up on everybody and everybody’s up on me, and I’m trying to figure out how to trust that or whatever. But, you know, for right now, I’m in the SHU,’” prosecutors said.
During that same call, prosecutors say, Kelly told someone that the MCC staff told him he could “try it [general population] in a couple of days to see what it looked like but they can’t guarantee nothing. You know, and that’s why, I was like, hmmm, too many people up on you and I done seen too many movies, you know, and it’s just, and then I’m so popular here, it’s like yeah man.”
Greenberg said Tuesday that immediately after Kelly’s arrest, jail officials told the singer “that they could not ensure his safety unless he remained there (in the SHU).”
“I think the jail came to determine that there were reasonable conditions in which he could go to general population,” said Greenberg, who declined to share what those conditions were.
It was not until last month, Greenberg said, that Kelly wanted to get out of the SHU because he was tired of being subjected to the same “draconian rules” as the other inmates in the special housing unit.
Kelly has had three cellmates since his arrest. Prosecutors also said has had access to indoor recreation three times per week and has even patronized the jail’s commissary, opting to buy a Snickers candy bar.
Though his motion is now, essentially, moot, Greenberg said Tuesday that it “helped to spur [jail officials] to take action.”
“We’re glad they took action and [Kelly’s] glad they took action,” he added.
Kelly faces a combined 18 counts in federal indictments in Chicago and Brooklyn and could go to prison for as many as 195 years for the Chicago case alone. Out east, he potentially faces decades more behind bars.
In Chicago, he faces 13 counts revolving around child pornography, enticing a minor into illegal sexual activity and a conspiracy to obstruct justice — alleging Kelly thwarted his state court prosecution a decade ago with threats, gifts and six-figure payoffs.
The Chicago indictment describes alleged behind-the-scenes maneuvering designed to protect Kelly during the state court prosecution. It says Kelly and others intimidated the alleged victim and her parents into lying to police and a grand jury. They also allegedly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars as they tried to track down tapes of Kelly having sex with minors before prosecutors found them.
A status hearing in the case is scheduled for Wednesday morning at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse.
The singer also faces sex abuse and child prostitution charges brought by prosecutors in Cook County and Hennepin County, Minnesota.