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Who Gets Protective Custody in Jail or Prison?

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

Some convicts and people who get arrested (especially celebrities) are placed in a sort of "protective custody" in jail or prison, segregated from the general population. But it's not just TV and movie stars who get this kind of treatment.

Often a person is placed in protective custody because of an increased risk of harm or death from other inmates. In some cases, it is a measure to prevent potential self-harm or suicide.

What exactly is protective custody behind bars, and who gets it?

What Is Protective Custody?

Generally, protective custody exists in facilities that house convicts to protect a particular inmate from the rest of the population, which may mean solitary confinement.

The case of Egidio Batista is a good example of the need for protective custody. The Massachusetts man was "brought in on protective custody" for being drunk, according to his daughter's lawyer. But police placed Batista in a group cell where he was attacked and killed by another inmate, reports The Associated Press.

This kind of assault is sometimes random but often gang-related, and while no one wants this kind of violent activity to occur, it is a reality of many prisons in this nation.

It is also increasingly difficult for prisoners to receive compensation for injuries that are incurred in prison. So for many of them, protective custody may seem like the best option to stay safe behind bars.

Who Gets Protective Custody?

There is really no hard and fast rule for prisons or jails granting protective custody to an inmate, but it seems to happen most often with celebrities or those who commit especially heinous crimes (or both).

For example, ex-Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky was placed in protective custody after his conviction in 2012. Prison officials feared for his safety, citing his "high profile nature" coupled with "the nature of his crimes."

Celebrity seems to be the key to cracking into special treatment, as rapper Ja Rule served his stint in state prison in the relatively safe embrace of protective custody.

At his sentencing hearing in August, Ohio kidnapper Ariel Castro was sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years for his torture and rape of three kidnapping victims. Because of the high-profile nature of his case and the nature of his crimes, he is a likely candidate for protective custody.

If you have more questions about getting protective custody behind bars, your experienced criminal defense lawyer will be able to give you some sound advice.

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