By Bonnie L. Cook, The Philadelphia Inquirer –
PHILADELPHIA — In the wake of his sentencing Tuesday, Jerry Sandusky starts a 30-day assessment process at Camp Hill prison that will decide his ultimate placement among the state’s 27 prisons.
Sue Bensinger, deputy press secretary for the Department of Corrections, said Sandusky is being remanded to Camp Hill to undergo the same diagnostic and classification process as any other prisoner.
“An inmate is an inmate,” she said.
All prisoners undergo a month of physical and psychological tests, as well as a review of their criminal, educational and vocational history.
The aim is to create a safe, suitable plan for each one’s housing and treatment, Bensinger said.
“The reason for the assessment is to get the inmate going to adequate housing and treatment programs,” Bensinger said.
The evaluation period is two weeks to a month, but could take longer if the inmate is coming and going to court hearings.
Asked if age is a factor in Sandusky’s placement, Bensinger would only speak in general.
“All those factors come into play, but health conditions weigh more heavily than age,” she said. Sandusky is 68 years old and received a sentence of 30 to 60 years behind bars.
She said one prison — Laurel Highlands Correctional Facility in Somerset County — generally takes offenders who are chronically ill for end-stage diseases, and require a highly staffed medical facility.
“All inmates would be accessed when they come in for chronic illness,” she said. It is not known if Sandusky has any such condition.
In deference to their age and creaky knees, some inmates are housed in a cell on the first-floor tier. All inmates are given a roommate, she said.
“There is no special treatment,” she said.
As far as security concerns, Bensinger said all inmates are looked at with consideration for their safety, and that of the population as a whole.
Bensinger said there will be no special limitations on Sandusky — he will get visitors, write and receive letters and have access to the phone and TV, just as others do.
He would only receive special restrictions if he disobeys the rules.
“I hate to say it, but an inmate is an inmate,” said Bensinger. “Unless they change their behavior and get into trouble, they go by the same guidelines as everyone.
“It’s easier when dealing with a prison population. You know when you’re coming from, and it makes everyone’s life easier.”