Is Jerry Sandusky alive? His lonely prison life

Following decades of sexually assaulting boys, Jerry Sandusky faced trial for his crimes. Despite reports from victims about Jerry’s lascivious conduct, Sandusky’s employers at Penn State failed or refused to investigate the allegations, inadvertently facilitating Jerry’s abuse. 

A Pennsylvania court found Jerry guilty of 45 counts of child sex abuse. Jerry faced a centuries-long prison sentence, but Judge John Cleland sentenced him to 30 to 60 years in prison. 

“I am not going to sentence you to centuries,” Judge Cleland explained his reasoning. “It makes no sense for a 68-year-old man. This sentence will put you in prison for the rest of your life.”

Jerry is incarcerated at Laurel Highlands state prison after a judge reinstated his sentence

In 2019, an appeals court order overturned the mandatory sentencing guidelines used by Judge Cleland, setting up a resentencing trial for Jerry Sandusky. The Center County Court denied Jerry’s application for a new trial.

Jerry maintained his innocence, saying: “I apologize that I’m unable to admit remorse for this because it’s something I didn’t do. No matter what, nobody or nothing will ever be able to take away what’s in my heart. To those supporters out there, I just want to say I love you.”

Sandusky, who looked frailer following 5 ½ years in prison, broke into sobs while making brief remarks. Jerry’s attorney, Alexander Lindsay, cited excerpts from letters written by Jerry’s supporters, which described the disgraced coach as a ‘generous, giving individual’ and ‘a religious man.’

Lindsay prayed for a lesser prison sentence that would give Jerry a chance at life outside prison. “I believe that he will get a new trial and he will be exonerated,” Lindsay said. “And I hope he will be alive to see it.”

Senior Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Buck said Jerry’s application for a reduced sentence had no merit. Buck said Jerry manipulated and betrayed his victims when he molested them and when he portrayed them as greedy liars looking to profit from false allegations. 

“But the jury believed them [the victims],” Buck said. According to Jennifer Storm, the state victim advocate, the victims didn’t speak at the trial because they didn’t want to relive the trauma. Storm said the victims wanted Jerry to receive a similar or harsher sentence. 

“Jerry Sandusky is the worst kind of pedophile,” one of the victims wrote in a letter read by Storm. “There is no remorse. There is no acknowledgement of regret. Only evil.” 

Judge Maureen Skerda reinstated Jerry’s original sentence. He is incarcerated at Laurel Highlands state prison and will be eligible for parole in 2042. Most people expect Sandusky, 78, to die in prison. 

“I want the victims to understand that your criminal actions were not their fault,” Judge Skerda told Sandusky. 

Sandusky maintains his innocence, alleging he was wrongfully convicted

“I fully understand that you maintain your innocence,” Judge Skerda told Jerry. “This court has a duty to hold you responsible for your criminal actions.” When a reporter asked Jerry whether he maintains his innocence, Sandusky said, “absolutely.”

On the 10th anniversary of Jerry Sandusky’s arrest, the Centre Daily Times sent a letter to Sandusky containing a series of questions. Jerry refused to answer the questions but replied through a letter asserting his innocence. Sandusky wrote:

“I am an innocent person, wrongfully convicted by sinister ways of deception, dishonesty and disregard. I did not commit the heinous crimes I was accused of doing. Yes, I’m imperfect, have made mistakes and have been naive, but I am not a criminal.”

A spokesperson for the state’s top prosecutor said Sandusky’s claims of innocence did ‘nothing to undermine any confidence in his convictions.’ “A jury found, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Sandusky committed 45 criminal offenses relating to the sexual abuse of 10 boys,” the spokesperson wrote in an email. 

Centre Safe Executive Director Anne Ard said Jerry sounded ‘like every predator out there.’ Ard said:

“Never having met or spoken to Sandusky, I can’t say for sure, but I think he probably believes that everything he’s said in the letter is absolutely true. Abusers have an amazing ability not only to fool others, but also to deceive themselves.”

Ard said that child abusers often claim they are innocent and were only caring for the victim. “The really insidious part [of] this is that often they work to make the victim believe this as well, saying ‘I love you’ while at the same time abusing them,” Ard said. 

According to victim impact statements read by Jennifer Storm during Jerry’s resentencing, they suffered from humiliation, trust issues, and suicidal inclinations. Victim No. 9’s mother wrote:

“You have destroyed my family. I cannot forgive you for that. You have damaged and hurt so many people. There is no punishment sufficient for you.”

Jerry has spent most of his prison life in solitary confinement due to safety concerns

Following Jerry’s first sentencing, a former inmate convicted of sex crimes told ABC News that Sandusky would likely receive verbal abuse but wouldn’t be in physical danger. He said:

“There will be a substantial amount of verbal harassment, but physical is much less common in Pennsylvania prisons than people think. Pennsylvania prisons are very non-violent.”

William DiMascio, executive director of the Pennsylvania Prison Society, told the outlet that danger would be a consideration when deciding how to handle Jerry’s prison stay. Experts said that Jerry’s prison sentence would begin with a short stint in solitary confinement before a move to the general population. 

Jerry has spent most of his sentence in solitary confinement. Pennsylvania Corrections Secretary John Wetzel said Jerry must remain in ‘restrictive prison housing’ for his safety. Wetzel told Penn Live:

“You look at any notorious person, like Jeffrey Dahmer, they go out in general population and they get killed. Ten percent of our [prison] population is never going home. So, there’s some folks that don’t have much to lose.”

Sandusky has faced disciplinary issues in prison: Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Buck said Sandusky disobeyed orders to move to another cell, refused to return a food tray, and hid pills during a prison transfer. However, the decision to place him in solitary confinement isn’t based on disciplinary infractions. 

Jerry has more time outside and possessions in his cell than a prisoner placed in restrictive housing as punishment. Wetzel said that Sandusky’s notoriety puts him in more danger than most convicted child molesters. “Those high-profile inmates really become targets,” Wetzel said. 

Wetzel explained that attacks on child molesters happen because prisoners cannot protect their children while in prison. He said: “You’re a dad. You’re sitting in prison. You’re not in a place to protect your child. Then you hear someone with these charges. It’s a scary population.”

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