By Nancy Dillon
Bill Cosby has been moved to “general population” at his state prison in Pennsylvania and is being treated the same as all inmates, a prison official told the New York Daily News Thursday.
The move was made Jan. 28 after Cosby spent his first few months in “administrative segregation” at the maximum-security SCI Phoenix facility outside Philadelphia, said Amy Worden, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.
“From what I understand from prison officials, the transition has been smooth and he’s happy to be out socializing with folks,” Worden told The News.
She said Cosby — like other famous inmates including rapper Meek Mill and disgraced coach Jerry Sandusky — was “given the chance to acclimate” before staff determined he was ready to move into general population.
Now Cosby is in a single-person cell next to other inmates, must be present for daily counts and eats his meals in the dining hall associated with his particular unit, she said.
He also has access to the day room, the yard, the libraries and settings for religious activities, she said.
Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt disputed the claims in a statement to The News following a story in The New York Times that first reported the move.
“I spent time with Mr. Cosby Thursday and Friday of last week, we knew he was going to be moved to a Veteran’s facility on the campus (of SCI Phoenix). He made it clear that he’s not in general population but has contact with a trustee that guides him around,” Wyatt said.
“He does not eat in the area with other residents; he does not have a cellmate; and he does not exercise with other residents,” he said. “Mr. Cosby is not in general population because that would be detrimental to his safety and security, due to his blindness.”
Wyatt then criticized prison officials for releasing information about Cosby’s move, despite the fact such information is public record.
“It’s not a matter of debate,” Worden told The News when asked to respond to Wyatt’s statement. “He misunderstands what general population is. You’re either in it or not.”
She said Cosby is most certainly classified as general population. She declined to say if he’s being housed in a facility serving veterans but said such a facility exists on the campus and serves inmates classified as general population.
“He’s in a specialized unit, but I’m not going to say which one,” she told The News.
She said such units include the “honor” unit and units for inmates with special needs.
Beyond their specialized housing assignments, these inmates are “otherwise indistinguishable,” she said, with the same routines.
She said Wyatt’s claim that Cosby has a “trustee” guiding him around is misleading.
“‘Trustee’ is not even a word we use. We don’t have trustees, they’re inmate assistants who help the disabled. In his case, it’s public knowledge he’s visually impaired, so they would help guide him around,” she said.
“From what I understand from prison staff, he is going to the dining room,” she said.
Cosby, 81, was convicted last April on three counts of aggravated indecent assault.
A jury found him guilty of giving former Temple University staffer Andrea Constand a mystery medication and sexually assaulting her while she was incapacitated at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in 2004.
The comedian claimed the encounter was consensual, but the judge allowed several of the more 60 women now accusing Cosby of sexual assault to testify as so-called “prior bad act” witnesses.
Cosby was sentenced to three to 10 years in state prison at a hearing in September.