Sandusky faces life of austerity, notoriety

Judge John Cleland , at the Centre County Courthouse, will sentence Jerry Sandusky Tuesday. NABIL K. MARK / Centre Daily Times
Judge John Cleland , at the Centre County Courthouse, will sentence Jerry Sandusky Tuesday. NABIL K. MARK / Centre Daily Times

In prison, he will have trouble keeping a low profile. If he pays for a TV, he can watch PSU games.

Posted: October 09, 2012

HARRISBURG - Jerry Sandusky will walk into state prison with little more than a watch and wedding band. He'll be able to work a 30-hour week to make a few dollars. He'll be able to watch Penn State football, but not violent movies.

When the former Pennsylvania State University defensive football coach is sentenced Tuesday, he will find himself far removed from the comfortable suburban life he once led, subject to the many rules and regulations of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

Even Sandusky's lawyer believes that whatever sentence his client gets, at 68, Sandusky will likely live out his days in state prison. Prison officials, written policies, and former offenders provided the Associated Press a detailed look at the regimented life behind bars Sandusky faces.

He has been housed in isolation at the Centre County Correctional Facility in Bellefonte, Pa., since his conviction in June on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, and has spent his days reading and writing, preparing a statement for sentencing, and working out twice a day, his lawyer, Joe Amendola, said.

"Jerry is a very likable guy. He gets along with everybody," Amendola said last week as he worked with Sandusky to help get his affairs in order, including updating his will. "He's a model inmate. He doesn't cause problems."

Assuming Judge John Cleland gives him at least two years - the minimum threshold for a state prison sentence - Sandusky's first stop will be the Camp Hill state prison near Harrisburg, where all male inmates undergo a couple of weeks of testing to determine such things as mental and physical health, education level, and any treatment needs.

Prison officials will assign him a security-risk level and decide which "home prison" to send him to.

Although Sandusky's home in the Lemont area of State College is only a couple of miles from the state prison in Rockview, there is no way to predict where he will end up.

Older inmates sometimes end up at Laurel Highlands, which can better treat more severe medical problems, or at Waymart, a comparatively lower-security prison in the state's northeastern corner.

The state's roughly 6,800 convicted sex offenders are scattered throughout the prison system, which has no special units for them. Treatment is available for them, and those who hope to be paroled have to participate.

"My guess is he'll wind up in a minimum-security facility, and probably a facility for nonviolent people," Amendola said.

A convicted sex offender who spent 10 years in prison who works with other released sex offenders through the Pennsylvania Prison Society said Sandusky won't be able to keep a low profile.

"You can have some control over how obscure you are as a prisoner," said the 52-year-old man from the Philadelphia suburbs, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the stigma attached to sex offenses. "You can either make yourself stand out or you can stay closer to the woodwork. There's no hiding that man."

The state will provide Sandusky with clothes, shoes, bedding, and his first set of toiletries. He'll be able to take with him a wedding ring without gemstones, a basic watch worth $50 or less, eyeglasses, and dentures. Sandusky uses a machine for sleep apnea and takes medications.

Exercise rules vary, but inmates generally spend an hour or more a day in the yard, which might entail walking, playing ball, or lifting weights.

Inmates can buy a television with a 13-inch screen for their cells, at a cost of about $275, with prison-designed programming of about 15 channels that costs about $15 a month. The offerings include the networks but no channels that run R-rated movies or shows with a lot of violence.

Sandusky will be able to watch college football when the games are broadcast on ESPN or another major network.

"A lot of guys live for it," said a man who works with released sex offenders. "Football season is huge."

Sandusky, who regularly attended a Methodist church in State College, will be able to go to religious services.

Sandusky, who has a master's degree, will be encouraged to work, and most inmates do, although it's not mandatory. An inmate's first job is often in the kitchen or doing janitorial work. More coveted occupations include maintenance, landscaping, clerical work, and tutoring.

The pay barely covers the cable bill: 19 to 51 cents an hour, with a 30-hour workweek. Some of that money may go to pay fines or costs, or toward the $10 co-pay for a doctor visit.

If people on the outside put money on his account, it also can be deducted to pay any fines or costs.

And if Sandusky writes a book, state law will prevent him from making any money off it.

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