In 1980 there were 370 elderly people in Pennsylvania state prisons, as of 2014 there were 8,000, which equaled 16 percent of prisoners over the age of 55.
As of January 1, 2018, the state Department of Corrections reported 10,442 inmates over the age of 50.
At 81, Bill Cosby counts among the growing number of Pennsylvania inmates – or, as the comedian prefers to call them, residents of the state.
Cosby is housed in the Keystone State’s newest, biggest and most expensive prison – the State Correctional Institution-Phoenix, a $400 million and 3,830-bed high-security complex in Montgomery County just outside of Philadelphia.
Although he’s yet to be placed in general population, Cosby isn’t receiving any special treatment – nor does he seek any, said his longtime publicist Andrew Wyatt, who visited with the entertainer over the Thanksgiving Day holiday.
“He’s doing great. He knows he shouldn’t be there, but he’s focused,” Wyatt said.
“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.’”
Cosby, who was sentenced in September to 3 to 10 years for aggravated indecent assault, is also helping other “residents” and even prison employees whom he freely advises on matters like food, health and staying out of trouble.
“Mr. Cosby has regular and in-depth discussions about getting better nutrition for the residents and getting them on natural supplements because the residents and officers have major health problems,” Wyatt said.
Through Wyatt, Cosby said, “every morning a message comes over telling residents to line up for their insulin shots. These are young – 20, 30, and 40 year-old – men,” he said.
Wyatt said Cosby is “so concerned with the high obesity rate, not just with the residents, but the officers because they’re having to survive off of the prison food, too,” he said.
Asked if Cosby has sulked at all while awaiting his appeal, Wyatt unequivocally shot down that notion.
He said even officers and some prison officials have suggested that Cosby shouldn’t be there as he awaits his appeal on his conviction.
A recent report from the Brennan Center and Time Magazine noted that 39 percent of U.S. prisoners shouldn’t be incarcerated at all.
Wyatt said Cosby falls into the category and, without citing those reports, his beliefs are in line with experts.
At 81, Cosby likely isn’t a threat to society – one of the primary criterion for incarceration.