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Published: 11/17/2012

A state of living death

Jerry Sandusky, the former assistant football coach at the center of the Pennsylvania State University child sex abuse scandal, has been moved to the prison where he will likely spend the rest of his days. He will be held in protective custody so that other prisoners will not kill or injure him.

The old fable turns out to be true: Even hardened criminals can’t stand a child abuser. But because of the horrible nature of his crimes, some may wish that Sandusky, 68, was thrown to the inmate wolves with the same consideration for mercy he gave to his child victims.

Whether the death penalty should not be limited to murderers but apply also to such molesters — Sandusky was found guilty of 45 counts of child sex abuse — is a separate discussion. But no one should make the mistake of thinking that Sandusky is getting off easy.

His new address is a maximum-security prison in Pennsylvania. There are no lovely days in that neighborhood. He is now with the worst of the worst; the prison houses death-row inmates.

This is what protective custody means: Sandusky will remain in his cell 22 to 23 hours a day. He is allowed an hour of exercise outside his cell five days a week, and he must eat his meals inside it.

He can shower only three times a week. Any religious or counseling service will take place in his cell. All visits are without contact. When he does leave the cell, he will have an escort.

Sandusky was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison — time enough to consider the enormity of his crimes in this state of living death. In the long years hence, he may come to think that a quick death from a shiv wielded by a fellow prisoner would have been more merciful.



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