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Wednesday
Oct102012

Behind Bars: How Jerry Sandusky Will Live in Prison

Patrick Smith/Getty Images(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- As convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky was led away from the Centre County, Pa., court house on Tuesday, the former Penn State football defensive coordinator was headed toward what will likely be the rest of his life in the Pennsylvania state prison system.

Sandusky was sentenced Tuesday morning to serve no less than 30 years and no more than 60 years in state prison for his conviction on 45 counts of child sex abuse, a sentence tantamount to life in prison for the 68-year-old.

He had been found guilty in July of abusing 10 boys he befriended through his charity for underprivileged youth, the Second Mile.  The accusations against Sandusky ignited outrage at Penn State and across the country, as two top officials were arrested for allegedly covering up his crimes, and head football coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier lost their jobs over their knowledge of the abuse.

Sandusky will now go to Camp Hill State Prison, near Harrisburg, to determine where and how he will spend the rest of his life in jail.  Officials from the Department of Corrections will determine his medical and mental health needs, as wells as his security needs as a 68-year-old pedophile.

"Danger is always a consideration but I think the people in the Department of Corrections would probably say they're very equipped to ensure the safety of inmates," William DiMascio, executive director of the Pennsylvania Prison Society, said.

Officials will then decide where to send Sandusky, likely to a low-security prison specializing in older inmates or those with psychological issues, including one in eastern Pennsylvania with many sex offenders.  

There are 26 prisons for men in Pennsylvania that Sandusky could be sent to, none of which have a special housing unit or facility for sex offenders, the department said.  The system houses more than 50,000 prisoners.

Sandusky could be held in solitary confinement at the beginning of his sentence, though he will likely be transferred to the general population quickly, according to experts.  He will then most likely be placed with other inmates of similar ages and crimes.

"I'm assuming he will be placed with non-violent offenders.  He was not a violent offender in traditional sense, like robber or murderer, and it's a mechanism whereby his safety and security will be hopefully enhanced.  They wouldn't want to put him in a cell with a violent really bad guy," according R. Paul McCauley, professor emeritus at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a legal consultant.

A former state prison inmate who was convicted of sex crimes told ABC News anonymously that Sandusky would receive verbal abuse from inmates because of his case, but likely would not be in physical danger.

"People are going to know who he is, it's very hard to remain anonymous.  You wear your name on your clothes in state prison," he said.  "There will be a substantial amount of verbal harassment, but physical is much less common in Pennsylvania prisons than people think.  Pennsylvania prisons are very non-violent."

Once he has received his housing assignment, he will have the option of participating in a treatment program for sex offenders.  Though he likely will not ever be eligible to receive parole while he is alive, he may find it helpful, according to the ex-inmate.

Sandusky's day will consist of work, recreation time in the yard, and time spent in his cell reading or watching television, including Penn State football games.

"If he wants to buy a TV he can buy a small-screen TV, they only have to pay for the cable, and they have time out in the yard every day to work out, get exercise and whatnot," DiMascio said.

Because of his work in sports and athletics, he may be given a job organizing athletic programs, McCauley said.  He could also work in the kitchen or doing janitorial work, though more prized positions include tutoring and clerical work, according to the former state prisoner.

He can use the money earned from his jobs -- about $15 a month -- for food or toiletries at the commissary or phone calls, for which he is allotted 15 minutes a day.  He can also have visitors multiple times a week, though visits with minors -- including his grandchildren -- will be forbidden.

Sandusky maintains that he was wrongly convicted and will fight his conviction through an appeal.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio