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Bill Cosby’s life in prison: What will it be like?

Bill Cosby spent his first night in prison at the State Correctional Institution Phoenix in Collegeville, in a single cell with no cellmate.

Bill Cosby is escorted by police in handcuffs as he exits the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Norristown on Tuesday.
Bill Cosby is escorted by police in handcuffs as he exits the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Norristown on Tuesday.Read moreJOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer

"America's Dad" is now known as inmate NN7687.

Bill Cosby spent his first night behind bars Tuesday, marking the start of his three-to-10-year prison sentence for sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004.

After leaving the courthouse in Norristown, Cosby was transported to the Montgomery County Jail in Lower Providence Township. He later spent the night at the State Correctional Institution Phoenix in Collegeville.

And there he will stay, corrections officials say.

Where he will serve his punishment was uncertain at his sentencing — prosecutors suggested a prison on the other side of the state — but a corrections spokesperson said Wednesday that the decision had been made to keep Cosby at SCI Phoenix for the duration of his term.

He was booked into SCI Phoenix and was initially given a single cell "adjacent to the infirmary" with no cellmate because he is a high-profile inmate, said Department of Corrections spokesperson Amy Worden.

Prison officials said they hope Cosby will eventually join the general population of inmates at SCI Phoenix, which has nearly 4,000 beds.

Cosby will meet with staff from the prison's medical, psychology, and records departments, as part of standard practice to assess new inmates, Worden said. That evaluation process may take several weeks.

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

Because Cosby was designated as a "sexually violent predator," he must attend sex-offender counseling sessions while in prison. Judge Steven T. O'Neill said Cosby is "in need of correctional treatment" that can be provided in state prisons.

Cosby will be allowed phone calls, but visits during the first 10 days will be limited to lawyers and religious advisers. After that, Worden said, Cosby can submit a list of as many as 50 people to be approved as visitors.

SCI Phoenix is the state's newest and most expensive prison, opened on the campus of SCI Graterford, which has since closed.

Meals vary depending on the day, according to the Department of Corrections summer and fall 2018 menu. Inmates can choose between a meat or vegetarian entree for lunches and dinners. One dinner, for example, is roast pork with gravy, whipped potatoes, greens, bread, and applesauce. The dessert menu sometimes includes pudding (though the prison system doesn't serve Jell-O, the brand Cosby famously hawked, Worden says).

Cosby's lawyers had argued during his sentencing that he should stay out of prison because he is 81 and legally blind.

"I don't remember anyone ever sentencing a blind octogenarian who is a first-time offender to state prison," his lawyer Joseph Green told the judge.

District Attorney Kevin Steele had suggested the prison could accommodate him, noting that SCI Laurel Highlands in Somerset County, 230 miles west of Philadelphia, is equipped to care for elderly or sick inmates.

Cosby is not the only octogenarian or blind inmate in the state prison system.

There are about a dozen inmates with visual impairments in Pennsylvania, said Department of Corrections spokesperson Susan McNaughton, and some of them have inmate guides to help lead them around.

McNaughton said the state prison system has 86 inmates who are age 80 and older. There are two inmates who are 91, she said — the oldest in the state.

Cosby's lawyers, meanwhile, have vowed to appeal his conviction.

"They persecuted Jesus and look what happened," his publicist Andrew Wyatt said outside the courthouse Tuesday. "Not saying Mr. Cosby is Jesus, but we know what this country has done to black men for centuries."

Kristen Feden, one of the Montgomery County prosecutors who worked on the case against Cosby, called such a comparison "just offensive."

Speaking Wednesday on NBC's Today Show, Feden said justice was finally served for Constand.

"I asked her is she happy with the sentence," Feden said. "And she said yes."