At the ripe ole’ age of 81, Bill Cosby is settling into his new role as prison inmate #NN7687. Should the self-proclaimed prison counselor be granted a compassionate release?
Born William Henry Cosby, Jr., the comedian has added weight to two major issues related to the prison system:
- Mass Incarceration
- Compassionate Releases
Bill Cosby: A Resident of the State
Although the comedian prefers to refer to himself as a resident of the state, he is most definitely an aging federal prisoners. Currently, Pennsylvania holds the record as the DOC with the second highest percentage of aging inmates in the US.
There were only 370 elderly inmates in PA prisons in 1980. By 2014, that number had jumped to 8,000. That means the state’s inmates over 55 years old made up 16% of Pennsylvania’s prison population.
Fast forward to January 1, 2018. Pennsylvania DOC reported that there were 10,442 prisoners over the age of 50.
Where Is Bill Cosby Now?
Cosby is currently housed at State Correctional Institution-Phoenix (SCI Phoenix). This is the state’s largest and newest prison. It’s also the most expensive.
Located near Philadelphia in Montgomery County, this $400 million high-security prison features 3,830 beds.
The sitcom star has yet to see general population. Although he’s living under the watchful eyes of protective custody, his publicist, Andrew Wyatt, says he’s not getting special treatment.
And he apparently doesn’t want any either, claims Wyatt, saying:
“It’s quite prophetic and spiritual that Mr. Cosby is in an institution called, ‘Phoenix,’ which reminds me of the quote below because it’s a story of resilience, vindication and/or freedom that will be awarded to Mr. Cosby sooner than later.
“When our world comes crashing down and we come crashing down with it, we have a chance that others don’t have: we can only rise if we’ve fallen; we can only be reborn if we’ve known what it feels like to die inside. This is the story of the phoenix, ‘Bill Cosby.’”
Bill Cosby: Doing Hard Time
Contrary to popular belief, Bill Cosby was not convicted of rape. He was convicted for aggravated indecent assault for giving his victim Benadryl and fondling her while she under its influence.
For this, he was sentenced to 3-10 years in federal prison. As a prison inmate, Cosby has become somewhat of a prison counselor. He spends his time helping the correctional facility’s employees, as well as what he calls its “residents” AKA inmates.
He advises others on health and food matters. Cosby also acts as a mentor by counseling other prison residents on staying out of trouble. There are in-depth talks about the prison serving more nutritious foods. The actor even wants those with major health problems to have access to natural supplements.
It appears Cosby is becoming a certified self-proclaimed prison counselor.
Wyatt visited the iconic comedian during the Thanksgiving holiday. During the prison visit, they talked about the mental stability of one of the other residents. Cosby wanted to dissect it and find ways to save the inmate from his own “elf-destructive and problematic situation.”
Mass Incarceration: Should Bill Cosby Receive a Compassionate Release?
Many Bill Cosby fans are calling for his compassionate release, believing his imprisonment is simply adding to the problem of mass incarceration.
What is a compassionate release? It allows inmates who are sick, dying and aging to get released from prison early based on certain requirements. Such a release must be granted by the judge who sentenced the convict after reviewing a filed motion.
But does Bill Cosby actually meet the criteria for a compassionate release?
According to Wyatt, even the correctional officers at SCI Pheonix, as well as various prison officials, believe Cosby should be free while he waits for his appeal. Others believe that he did the crime, so like any other inmate, he needs to do the time.
He insists that Cosby falls into the category of the 39% of American prisoners who shouldn’t be locked up at all.
Because the 81-year-old appears to be no threat to society, should this be a reason for him to be set free? Or, will compassionate release be the fight later in the battle to free Bill Cosby?
Tell us what you think in the comments below.