October 9, 2012 / 11:44 PM / 7 years ago

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 he will be stripped of everything but his wedding band and a cheap watch, work for pennies per hour and likely be placed in protective custody.

Comforts are few, especially for sex offenders, and 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.

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.

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.

His first roll of toilet paper and deodorant comes with the cell but he will have to buy the rest. The commissary also sells a 28-cent pack of Ramen noodles, which he can prepare with warm water from his cell sink since hot plates are prohibited, McNaughton said.

Every morning at 7 a.m., he will awaken to a cold breakfast and then head for a job that pays 19 to 52 cents an hour, probably as a clerical worker. He will eat two hot meals and get outdoors during two exercise periods, McNaughton added.

Each month, Sandusky will be allowed five visits from a group of up to five people. But if he is kept in protective housing, he will remain separated from his visitors by a glass divider. Pennsylvania does not offer conjugal prison visits, according to McNaughton.

His new prison address could range from State Correctional Institution at Laurel Highlands, where older inmates are sometimes housed because it has a nursing-home capability, to Waymart, which serves inmates who are mentally ill. There is also Rockview, located just down the road from his home in State College, Pennsylvania.

“We don’t necessarily plan to place offenders near their families,” McNaughton said.

Barbara Goldberg reported from New York; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Will Dunham

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