This is what Bill Cosby's time in prison might look like

Mark Makela/Getty ImagesBill Cosby (L)
  • On Tuesday, Bill Cosby was sentenced to three to 10 years at a state-of-the-art, maximum-security prison in Pennsylvania after being convicted in April of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman.
  • The 81-year-old’s lawyers were initially pushing for house arrest because of the former actor’s age and legal blindness. Thanks to his high profile, he’s now temporarily in his own prison cell.
  • Cosby’s first prison meal reportedly included pudding, chicken, and iced tea.
  • Cosby may choose to hold a prison job at less than $US0.50 an hour, a huge pay cut from the millions he raked in during his acting career.
  • Cosby’s legal blindness may stop him from taking certain vocational classes, such as barbering and carpentry, and prevent him from performing manual labour jobs.

On Tuesday, Bill Cosby was remanded to Pennsylvania’s State Correctional Institute at Phoenix, where he’ll serve three to 10 years after being convicted in April of drugging and sexually assaulting Temple University women’s-basketball administrator Andrea Constand in 2004.

While there’s no telling exactly how long Cosby will serve, we do have some insight into what prison may be like for the sitcom star who was once labelled “America’s Dad.”

Cosby almost started off his stay with a healthy dose of pudding

Cosby’s 1987 Jell-O pudding campaign is one of his most recognisable jobs. And, as it turns out, the star will likely be eating some of the same stuff in prison. TMZ spoke to sources at Montgomery County Correctional Facility, where Cosby was held until he was transferred to Phoenix Tuesday afternoon. Had he stayed at the facility, he would have been served a chicken patty with gravy, mashed potatoes, some veggies, and iced tea along with the sweet treat on Tuesday night.

According to Thrillist, prison food isn’t as nice as it sounds on paper. Many state facilities have been forced to cut servings down from three meals a day to just two. If Cosby wants the best meals, he should consider converting to Judaism or at least faking it. Thrillist claimed kosher meals in prison are so good that some inmates actually do try to fake their religion. Fans of “Orange is the New Black” saw this play out in the Netflix series.

Cosby initially got his own cell

SCI Phoenix is about 25 miles from where Cosby was tried. According to, the star originally nabbed his own cell because of his high profile. He will eventually join the general population in one of the 3,830 beds in SCI Phoenix’s brand new facility.

At the start of his stay, the star temporarily said goodbye to all of his belongings. CNN reported he was only given a few basics, including a prison uniform, toiletries, linens, towels, and state-issued boots.

The first 10 days may be isolating for Cosby

It will likely take several weeks for Cosby to be medically and psychologically evaluated by staff. reported that the star’s visits are limited to lawyers and religious advisers during the first 10 days; however, he is allowed to have phone calls. After the 10-day period, he can submit a list of up to 50 potential visitors for the prison to approve.

“We are taking all of the necessary precautions to ensure Mr. Cosby’s safety and general welfare in our institution,” Corrections Secretary John Wetzel told “The long-term goal is for him to be placed in the general population to receive the programming required during his incarceration.”

But former inmate O. J. Simpson said Cosby would be a target if he’s put with the general population. “The problem is the nature of the crime,” Simpson told TMZ. “Rapists are frowned upon in prison.”

Cosby will only make up to $US0.45 an hour for his work

The sitcom star, who is thought to owe $US282,000 in unpaid legal bills in addition to a $US25,000 fine for his assault case, may be able to slowly – very slowly – pay off his debt behind bars. A Pennsylvania Department of Corrections officer told TMZ that Cosby could find a job, if one is available, as soon as he began his sentence.

Cosby was once considered to be the world’s highest-paid actor. At the height of his fame in the mid-80s he reportedly earned more than $US80 million. In prison, he’s taking a massive pay cut. TMZ reported that the star would make between $US0.19 and $US0.45 an hour working one of a few potential jobs, including inside or outside maintenance, kitchen work, working in a garment factory, or helping sick inmates. His age and legal blindness will likely affect the type of work he’s allowed to do, and manual labour will probably be taken off the list.

If Cosby doesn’t want a job, he may be able to learn a trade

According to CNN, SCI Phoenix features over 30 rooms where inmates can attend classes and religious services, work out at the gym, or get their hair cut. This includes vocational education in subjects like carpentry, barbering, and custodial maintenance. It’s unlikely Cosby will opt for the former two trades, considering his legal blindness, but he may wish to fall back on a side job as a custodian to help him pay off some legal bills when he’s released. Most likely, he’ll remain retired.

Any classes the comedian takes can’t interfere with his mandatory counseling sessions. As a “sexually violent predator,” he’ll receive correctional treatment throughout his stay, according to

Cosby was hoping for house arrest before his sentencing

Though Cosby was ultimately given prison time, his lawyers had initially pushed for house arrest, claiming the legally blind former actor was “too old and vulnerable” for prison.

O. J. Simpson also said he believes Cosby would be better off in house arrest. “With his health and his age and the nature of the crime, there’s not a warden in this country wants the responsibility of a Bill Cosby,” he said. “I think they should let him do his time under house arrest.”

But Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill disagreed. Speaking to a packed courtroom, O’Neill labelled Cosby a “sexually violent predator,” but said “it would be an error for the court to base its decision solely on the seriousness of the crime.” Because Cosby was considered a flight risk, he was remanded immediately to prison.

“No one is above the law, and no one should be treated differently or disproportionately,” continued O’Neill, noting that sentencing shouldn’t be based on “who he is or who he was.”


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