Chicago Tribune | 2012

Published on October 9, 2012 by Barbara Goldberg

Behind bars, Sandusky may face threats and isolation

(Reuters) – Jerry Sandusky will soon join about 6,700 other convicted sex offenders serving time in Pennsylvania’s prison system, where comforts are few and the nature of his highly publicized crimes could make him a target.

Prison experts sketched a grim picture of Sandusky’s days and years ahead after he was sentenced on Tuesday to 30 to 60 years behind bars for sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years.

The 68-year-old former Penn State assistant football coach will be able to watch the team’s games if he purchases a $200 prison-approved television and pays a $15 monthly cable TV bill, according to Susan McNaughton, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

Otherwise, privileges will be rare for Sandusky, who is now held in solitary confinement at a county jail but will be transferred in about a week to the Camp Hill State Correctional Institution, McNaughton said.

There he will be evaluated to determine which of the 25 state prisons will house him, McNaughton added.

“There are two kinds of people that inmates hate: snitches and people who play with kids,” said prison consultant Larry Levine, an ex-convict who launched Wall Street Prison Consultants to advise clients about improving their life behind bars.

“They can’t just dump this guy into the general population,” Levine said, warning that others prisoners might try to beat or kill him.

Because his conviction as a child molester makes him a target in prison, he will likely be placed in isolation or protective custody, Levine said.

Sandusky’s lawyers plan to appeal the conviction.

About 6,700 sex offenders are among the population of 51,300 inmates in Pennsylvania state prisons and are not kept in segregated units, according to McNaughton.

VULNERABLE

McNaughton said any inmate who is assessed as “vulnerable” to violence may be assigned to more-protective housing, either a single cell, a special unit or administrative custody.

“Every inmate’s safety is of importance to the DOC, no matter who the offender is,” McNaughton said.

When he enters state custody, Sandusky will be allowed to keep only his wedding ring and a watch valued at less than $50, McNaughton said.

He will trade his county-issued red jumpsuit for the state’s brown slacks and matching shirt buttoned over a white undershirt, McNaughton added.

If he does not want to wear prison-issued shoes, he can buy Reebok, New Balance or Nike sneakers for $41 to $56 a pair from the commissary, according to McNaughton.