How Will Jerry Sandusky Be Treated In Prison?

  • Dylan Murphy

After Jerry Sandusky’s conviction on 45 of 48 counts on Friday night, we found out he was facing a minimum of 60 years in prison. Sandusky is also on suicide watch, as well as undergoing a battery of tests before his sentencing.

While the logistical details of Sandusky’s next steps have been made public, we were more curious about his future on the inside. So we poked and prodded the Internet, and here’s what it had to say about pedophiles in jail:

“In the social hierarchy of prison inmates, mob kingpins, accomplished bank robbers, and cop killers tend to get the most respect. Convicts who have committed crimes against children, especially sexual abuse, are hated, harassed, and abused. Many inmates refer to molesters as “dirty” prisoners, and some insist that assaulting or killing them represents a service to society.” [Slate]

“Victimizers become vulnerable in prison, none perhaps so much as child molesters. In the hyper-macho world of a maximum-security prison, ‘baby rapers,’ as they’re called, are a common target of violence and frequently seek the sanctuary of protective custody.” [NY Times]

“…even the population of our prison systems despises sex offenders and child molesters.” [Patriot-News]

“‘Child sex offenders are at risk of being murdered, having their food taken, having their cells defecated and urinated in,’ said Leslie Walker, a prisoner’s rights activist with the Massachusetts Correctional Legal Society. ‘Their life is truly a living hell.'” [ABC]

But despite the overwhelming anecdotal evidence condemning jailed pedophiles to the bottom of the prison totem pole, statistically, few pedophiles are actually killed in jail, if only because those in true danger remain in protective custody.

“At the end of 2001, about 83,000 state prison inmates, or about 6.8 percent, were male sex offenders who had committed a rape or sexual assault against a minor under age 18, according to Allen Beck, chief of corrections statistics for the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Just 56 state and federal prisoners out of a population of about 1.3 million were actually killed by other inmates during the yearlong period between July 1999 and June 2000, and it was unknown how many were pedophiles, Beck said.” [ABC]

But the harassment of Sandusky in jail has already started:

“Other prisoners were barred from communicating directly with Sandusky, but they could see him. And when the lights went out, inmates serenaded the disgraced coach with a famous line from Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall.’ At night, we were singing ‘Hey, teacher, leave those kids alone,’ ” Josh said, adding that everyone knew who Sandusky was because inmates had access to television and newspapers.” [The Daily, via Deadspin]

Yes, pedophiles have been famously murdered in prison in the past. But don’t expect that type of movie script to play out in Sandusky’s case – as much as we love The Shawshank Redemption, real prison life for famous child sex offenders like Sandusky is pretty dull.